Let’s make private care affordable


Dr Steve IleyBy Steve Iley, medical director at Bupa UK

We live in an ever-changing digital age. Every day, people see the creation of new products and services which they can comment about instantly on social media.

There have also been tremendous medical advances over the past decades, but the way the healthcare sector provides its services has not kept pace with modern lifestyle changes.

Many patients still have to phone the doctor’s secretary for appointments or receive handwritten bills. And while 66% of Britons use technology to manage their personal banking, only 16% use it to manage their healthcare.1

People’s lives are becoming even busier and they are increasingly looking for instant solutions to suit their lifestyles and make life easier.

This opens up a huge opportunity for our sector if we work together.

There has been a decline in individual spending on healthcare since the recession started in 2009, and the latest analysis from LaingBuisson highlighted the scale of the issue. At the start of 2015, the number of private medical cover policies in the UK – both insured and self-insured – was 3.94m, down from 3.97m in 2014.

Affordability concerns

However, we know that people value private healthcare. They just want it to suit their modern lifestyles, be more affordable and with proven higher quality.

One way which we can bring more people into the sector is by offering customers options that meet their different budgets.

We know that affordability is a key concern for increasingly savvy consumers. For half of Generation X (32 to 55-year-olds) the barrier to having private health insurance is that they cannot afford it.

Furthermore, 37% said they would be more likely to have it if it was more affordable.2 This is why we launched Bupa Funda­mental Health Insurance, an entry-level product to meet demand for more affordable healthcare and reach more potential customers.

Secondly, we need to prove the quality of our care – and that means sharing quality outcomes to our customers and demonstrating the expertise of the private sector.

Gateway to opportunity

Bupa’s Finder website is the biggest online private healthcare directory and is helping doctors, clinics and hospitals to grow their businesses.

It’s an opportunity for private consultants to demonstrate their expertise and experience, prove they provide high-quality care, and better connect with patients. With 50,000 visits a month, is your private practice making the most of this gateway?

At Bupa, we continue to invest heavily in developing new products and service, but we know there is still a long way to go. That is why it’s essential that the entire private healthcare sector continues to challenge itself to think innovatively, and that we all work together to create new ways to meet our customers’ changing lifestyles.

1. Figures from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,011 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25-26 March 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
2. Generation X has been taken as those born 1959 to 1982. Figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,005 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2-3 July 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).