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Coronavirus: The impact for private health insurance

24th March 2020

The current coronavirus pandemic is the most significant economic event since the financial crisis of 2008. As markets stutter and stall, the UK government has been taking unprecedented measures to safeguard both the physical and economic health of the country. 

As part of the largest ever fiscal package issued in peacetime (amounting to £350 billion), the state has committed to backing British businesses and providing a safety net to potentially millions of people whose livelihoods are at risk. Among the wide-ranging policies to tackle the threat of this disease is the integration of all private sector hospitals with the NHS.

David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network has said, ‘Independent hospitals are boosting emergency capacity to put at the disposal of the NHS over these coming weeks. We have worked hand-in-hand with the NHS for decades and will do whatever it takes to support the NHS in responding to this pandemic.’ 

As part of this enormous deal, the private sector will be adding 8,000 hospital beds, 10,000 nurses, 1,200 ventilators, 700 doctors, and 8,000 other clinical staff to the fight against coronavirus. This is in addition to around 7,500 former NHS clinicians that are returning to service at the request of the government. 

Whilst the private sector’s contribution to the NHS is welcomed by many, those with health insurance may be questioning what the impact will be for them. In this post we address some of their most frequently asked questions and take a broader look at the impact of coronavirus on private healthcare insurance. 

 

Where will private patients be treated for coronavirus?  

All treatment for COVID-19 in the UK has been managed by the NHS and this will continue under the new deal with the private sector. If you need to be admitted to hospital, you’ll receive the same treatment regardless of where you go. 

It’s worth noting, however, that most healthcare providers, including Bupa, Vitality, and AXA PPP, are offering 24/7 consultations through their own phone and app services to existing members.  

All members of the public, whether insured or not, are still encouraged to call the NHS’s dedicated coronavirus helpline on 111 if they notice any of the symptoms. 

 

Will planned procedures still continue in private hospitals? 

With the NHS and private hospitals combining, all services are being streamlined to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The extra capacity offered by private organisations will help to provide urgent procedures, such as cancer treatment. 

All non-urgent services in both public and private institutions are expected to be delayed until the current situation has been stabilised. Those with private health insurance and planned treatments are advised to contact their health provider for confirmation. 

 

How will coronavirus impact health insurance premiums? 

The Association of British Insurers, as reported in Which?, has stated that it doesn’t expect the coronavirus pandemic to push up premiums for private health insurance in the UK. 

Which? has also found that premiums from a few of the country’s largest health insurance providers have remained unchanged since the start of the outbreak. 

For those wishing to take out new policies now, however, it’s advised that they check for any new exclusions relating to coronavirus. 

The merging of public and private healthcare is ultimately for the benefit of the UK, helping to reduce pressure on the NHS in this challenging period. Those that have health insurance will receive the same treatment as those without for the time being, and won’t enjoy their usual access to non-urgent treatments. Whilst premiums remain stable, it’s advisable to check any policies for exclusions related to coronavirus as the current situation is set to last for quite some time. 

 

 

If you’d like some advice on how to manage your finances during this uncertain period, please get in contact with IMC Financial Services. Our expert advisors are on hand to decipher the latest updates and help you navigate the way to greater security. 

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