Your views: have added value benefits become a type of private healthcare?

Each week, Protection Reporter asks mortgage and protection advisers about the latest trends, developments and debates in the protection industry.


Related topics:  Your Views,  Newspage
Protection Reporter | Protection Reporter
2nd February 2023
Private Healthcare
"Customers forget they have these benefits and so they go unused"

This week, we asked advisers if added value benefits for life, critical illness or income protection plans had begun to be seen as a form of private healthcare by consumers – or whether demand for private medical insurance was on the rise.

Here’s what they had to say…

NHS pressures increase demand for healthcare benefits or cover

Pressure on the NHS, largely touted to be the result of Covid-19, has dominated the news cycle for some time – and the results are being felt in consumer demand for protection.

Business owners are bearing this shift in mind as they arrange group protection, with HR consultant Sarah Loates, director at Loates HR Consultancy, commenting:

“The ink is barely dry on the contract I signed yesterday for private healthcare for my team and me.

“As a micro-business, I have chosen to circumvent NHS waiting times than have an HR consultant out of action. As a business owner, it is just another risk I have had to mitigate.

“The broker I arranged the private healthcare plan with told me in 15 years, requests for this are at an all-time high as employers scramble to get coverage.”

And broker sentiment seems to mirror this, with David Conway, director at Clayhall Financial Services, adding:

“Who doesn't want 24/7 GP access? Who wouldn't want to avoid a race for a same-day GP appointment, or prioritising sitting on hold for an hour instead of getting on with life?”

“The 21st century demands instant service and protection providers shouldn't be marginalised on price by comparison sites, and this allows them to offer quality benefits (not just cinema tickets).”

Mental health matters

One of the key elements that consumers are requesting is mental health support. According to statistics from the British Medical Association, the rate of mental illness in England has been rising – with the percentage of adults presenting with common disorders such as anxiety and depression - rising from 17.5% in 2000 to 18.9% in 2014 and a record 4.3 million referrals being made to mental health services in 2021. It is therefore understandable that consumers are keen to ensure their protection includes mental health support, with independent financial adviser Samuel Mather-Holgate of Mather and Murray Financial commenting:

“Clients are telling us the important feature of a private medical plan, that isn't included as standard, is a comprehensive mental health policy. Customers are aware of the backlog of referrals for mental health conditions from the NHS and are also more cognisant of the various factors that can impact mental health. Thankfully, ensuring this is included in their policies is an inexpensive addition in the majority of cases. It's really important to discuss this with clients so they know what cover they have in place, or what they choose not to.”

Consumers are missing out on included benefits

While some consumers might be seeking out particular health benefits, Scott Taylor-Barr of Carl Summers Financial Services was keen to point out that consumers may be unaware of benefits available to them.

He said:

“There are some fantastic features that can be available to policyholders of good quality insurance packages, some are "free" and some are cost options, but they can make a huge difference to your health outcomes, especially with the current NHS backlogs.  Unfortunately, more often than not, customers forget they have these benefits and so they go unused.”

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