Private healthcare interest soars as NHS waiting lists grow in December

The number of adults paying for private medical insurance (PMI) has nearly doubled, new figures from Statista have shown.

Related topics:  private medical insurance,  healthcare
Amy Loddington | Communications director, Barcadia Media
13th February 2023
wooden blocks on a table depicting medical help scenarios

Despite having remained around 19% since 2019, the percentage of UK adults paying for PMI has soared to 22% in the year to December 2022 - highlighting consumer concerns about the NHS.

According to official data, NHS waiting lists rose again in December after a small dip in November, with 7.2 million people now waiting to receive treatment. More than 382,000 have been waiting for more than a year.

Brett Hill, Head of Health & Protection at consultancy Broadstone, said:

“A staggering 7.2 million people – around one in seven adults in England – are waiting for treatment from the NHS as the pressures on the service intensified further through December.

“The average patient is now waiting for well over three months before they can be treated during which time they could be suffering severe pain, anxiety and even having to give up work. In such an environment it is little surprise that demand for private healthcare is high with self-funded private hospital treatment shooting up by 33% since 2019 according to data from PHIN.

“Data out today also suggests that the percentage of adults paying for private health insurance has nearly doubled to 22% in December 2022 having hovered around roughly the 12% mark since 2019.

“While those seeking private healthcare tend to be wealthier and as such are less severely impacted by the cost of living pressures there are the makings of a surge in demand later this year. For a start, employers are recognising the importance of putting in place healthcare options to keep their staff fit, healthy and productive and so are investing more in this area.

“This driver towards private healthcare is being accelerated by innovation in the insurance sector to make this more affordable and efficient for both employers and employees. Finally, as the debilitating and painful realities of long waits for treatment start to hit home we expect a wider demographic of people to start accessing the sector as it becomes increasingly important to their quality of life. Decreasing strain on household budgets as inflation and energy prices fall could unlock a surge of demand as financing private medical treatment becomes more affordable.”

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