PPP, which claims 27 per cent of the market, launched a pounds 20m marketing campaign emphasising positive healthcare programmes instead of simply underwriting insurance risks.
Healthcare for Life will offer a range of four plans, from deluxe to budget, which can provide services appropriate for all age groups. All plans include medical screening services, eye tests and 24-hour access to what it claims is the world's biggest telephone health-information service.
It also plans new stand-alone or add-on products aimed specifically at women and at individuals with active lifestyles.
Woman's Plan cover includes annual health screens, private out-patient and daycare treatment, pounds 1,000 of pregnancy cover, infertility treatment and hormone replacement therapy. With customers paying the first pounds 50 of each claim the monthly premiums are a flat pounds 35.
The Fast-Lane plan includes health screens, free annual eye test, private and out-patient treatment and pounds 10,000 in the event of critical illness, overseas accident and emergency cover and repatriation costs. With a pounds 50 excess the annual premiums start at pounds 12.52 a month for a 21-year-old, rising with age to pounds 15.63 at 35 and pounds 25.25 at age 50, which is the maximum age for which cover is available. Premiums are the same both for men and women.
Bupa, still the market leader although its share has dipped below 50 per cent in the last 10 years, is increasing maximum cover on its disability income plan from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of gross salary (less long-term state incapacity benefit), with a choice of lifetime cover, cover until retirement and a two-year limited benefit cover.
Critical illness cover provides a lump sum on diagnosis of critical illnesses including cancer, heart attack, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease and loss of speech, hearing and sight.
A tax-free Hospital Cash plan to help recuperation from specific types of surgery is also on offer.