One thing that we are all seeking more of right now is security and reassurance, and private healthcare is one of the best ways that we can choose to take care of ourselves during this turbulent time. The private healthcare star continues to rise as it continues to prove its value against the impact of COVID-19. Private healthcare offers security in the long-term which is exactly the type of guarantee we want and need right now, as individuals, families and employees.
A Steady Recovery
The private healthcare industry was inevitably shaken up when the pandemic hit the UK back in March, and private capacity was repurposed to support the NHS’ response to COVID-19. But despite this unexpected swerve off track, industry figures from the period June to August reveal just how well the industry is bouncing back.
Data from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) reported in Cover magazine shows that there were more than 40,000 private healthcare admissions in the UK in August, which is more than two-thirds of the admissions for the same period in 2019. Statistics for June to July show self-pay and insured private healthcare admissions stood at almost 50% of 2019 figures, as the industry charts a steady recovery.
The data shows that there are a number of specialties that have driven the recovery. Trauma and orthopaedics head up the figures with the single largest increase in admissions from July to August. General surgery and ophthalmology have also played a key role. At the other end of the scale, plastic surgery continues to be the slowest recovering specialty but the balance of overall industry activity is on a smooth path towards pre-COVID levels.
The Future of the Market
Looking ahead, the impact of the second wave of coronavirus on private healthcare has yet to be fully realised and there is still likely to be enough trepidation about the risks of accessing healthcare among the general population to slightly suppress demand.
However, there are some specialties that are time-critical such as cancer, cardiac and fertility services for which demand will not waver and there is no question that COVID-19 has reiterated the value of PMI and propelled market growth during the past few months.
NHS waiting lists are growing all the time, which is stimulating a steady stream of new consumer interest in private medical cover. And the problem of waiting times is growing ever more serious. Research by the Royal College of Physicians suggests that the backlog of NHS clinical work will take up to two years to address in some specialties, and that’s assuming there are no further COVID-19 outbreaks.
Increased Consumer Confidence
The industry has really proven itself this year by responding quickly and efficiently to the unique challenges presented by COVID-19. Among a significant rise in demand for healthcare, PMI has demonstrated resilience, flexibility and a strong customer focus with value-added services including online GP appointments and AI-driven chatbots to ensure more people can get answers more quickly.
This has led to increased consumer confidence and perceptions, with even more reassurance of the support that private healthcare can bring. There has also been an increase in government initiatives to improve healthcare, further boosting market growth.
Looking further ahead, a new report by business consulting firm Grand View Research suggests that the global healthcare insurance market is set to see huge growth and reach USD 4 trillion by 2027, expanding at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 6.7%. With the increasing prevalence of various chronic disease a key factor for growth, this reiterates the value of PMI – heart disease and diabetes alone are responsible for 85% of the healthcare costs.
The rising cost of healthcare, in particular inpatient hospital care, sits firmly in line with the rising average life expectancy. All factors considered, this equals a higher chance of us needing essential healthcare in our lifetime. In an important segue, the report also shows that the life insurance segment accounted for the largest market share (53.3%) in 2019 due to the advantages and security it offers; life insurance as a benefit has consistently demonstrated exceptional value since the onset of the pandemic.