Simplicity is the best health policy
Andrew Geldard surveys the new-look private medical insurance
Wednesday 02 April 1997
Consequently, many people not in company health schemes bypass the NHS by taking out private medical insurance (PMI) and these schemes enjoyed massive popularity during the Eighties. However, according to the Association of British Insurers sales have been less buoyant during the Nineties, with many people allowing their policies to lapse. By 1995, the numbers of people with PMI had fallen by 25 per cent in five years to around six million.
According to research by Watson Wyatt, high levels of misunderstanding by consumers as to what is and what is not covered by PMI policies have been partly to blame. This ambiguity often results in consumers finding out too late that their policy does not cover a particular condition they need treatment for, creating a source of contention between provider and customer and resulting in bad press for the industry.
Recognising the need to provide greater clarity over what cover PMI policies provide, Prime Health are promoting an industry-wide "keep it simple" approach to medical insurance. Caroline Southwood of Prime Health says: "Part of this process involves using clear English in all literature explaining precisely what consumers are purchasing. People who purchase budget plans in particular are often left unaware of what benefits have been excluded to keep costs down and our latest two budget plans include a customer declaration to ensure the policyholder knows exactly what cover they are getting."
Another problem for PMI is that premiums are not cheap especially when you get older. Constant rises in medical costs, together with claims experience, mean companies usually raise premiums at least once a year, on top of further increases made on an age band basis. The age band increases differ among the top providers. For BUPA it is every five years, PPP have a small age-related increase every year while it is every 10 years up to the age of 60 for Prime Health.
Recent entrants to the PMI market, OHRA, are attempting to break this price structure with their product, Medios Executive 2000, which, under its loyalty bonus, makes no age related premium increases at all.
PMI plans can be loosely categorised into two types: comprehensive and budget. Comprehensive policies provide cover from a choice of up to 1000 hospitals for in-patient costs, including those for surgeons and consultants, home nursing, day care surgery, out-patient treatment and emergency worldwide repatriation. The cheaper budget plans give more limited access to out- patient consultations, choice of hospitals and have more restrictive annual claims limits while excluding certain treatments, like alternative medicine.
With consumers focusing on price, a number of new budget plans have been launched recently. An example is Prime Health's two new plans - Primecare Saver and SuperSaver - which cut premiums by reducing the comprehensive cover of its main Primecare plan. They offer full cover for eligible in-patient treatment, out-patient tests, consultations and day care surgery. Premiums start at pounds 16 for single cover and pounds 40 for a full family. Excluded cover includes alternative medicine and home nursing.
Guardian Direct's Standard and Value plans offer a refund of up to pounds 30 per person each year for routine dental or optical check ups and a further 12 for prescription charges. The Value and Standard plans provide costs for in-patient and day-patient treatment in a choice of up to 500 hospitals. For this cover, a man in his late 20s will pay pounds 14.80 each month for the Value plan and pounds 22.94 for the Standard plan.
If you already possess a PMI policy and are interested in changing to another provider, it is worth noting that the new policy provider may exclude treatment for a pre-existing condition. It could result in the provider not accepting you and create a situation where you are locked in with your existing provider. It is important to check with the prospective provider so that you know where you stand. Many companies also operate a moratoria where they accept you for cover, with any pre-existing conditions not included for the first two years.
While forecasts predict the PMI market will grow by 27 per cent by 2000, the industry needs to remain focused on two important customer needs - simplicity and price.
BUPA, 0800 600 500; Prime Health, 0800 779955; Guardian Financial Services, 0500 282820; OHRA, 01703 653663.
25 July 2014 11:00 PM
A London estate agent yesterday put a price on having a garden. David Pollock of Greene & Co reckons it can increase a property's value by a tenth.
Problem gambling: Amid heavy advertising and a surge in remote sports betting, more and more 16 to 24-year-olds are now seen as 'at risk'
26 July 2014 12:00 AM
25 July 2014 11:00 PM
Payday loan firms have been accused of bombarding financially vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls, after a debt charity reported that a third of its clients were plagued by the messages.
24 July 2014 12:00 AM
A plan to defuse a “mortgage debt timebomb” when interest rates rise is published today amid warnings that 2.3m households could struggle with their repayments.
Current accounts are too costly and confusing, says CMA as it announces investigation into Britain's biggest banks
19 July 2014 12:00 AM
19 July 2014 12:00 AM
11 July 2014 12:20 AM
11 July 2014 12:20 AM
How would you like to be able to choose how your electricity is made and even where it come from? It may sound futuristic and fanciful but the independent supplier Co-operative Energy has made it a reality this week.
11 July 2014 12:20 AM
04 July 2014 03:49 PM
MPs want medical evidence for claims. Will this bring higher premiums?
04 July 2014 11:00 PM
British Gas was yesterday forced to pay back £1m to its customers after mis-selling them energy deals.
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...
£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...
£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000