Making access to self-pay easy

The good news for many independent practitioners is that self-pay surgery is on the rise.

The bad news is that the private healthcare sector needs to do much more to make it easier for patients to access. And clearing up price confusion would be a good place to start, argues Keith Pollard.

The increasing cost of private medical insurance and growing NHS waiting lists are driving much needed growth in the UK’s self-pay market. 

In LaingBuisson’s latest Private Healthcare – Self-Pay UK Market Report, the growth of self-pay is expected to exceed 10%, helping private hospitals to offset the loss of income from insurance and NHS-funded activity. 

So, we are seeing renewed investment from all the private healthcare providers in promoting their fixed-price surgery schemes to the uninsured market. 

Partly stimulated by the Comp­etition and Markets Authority’s report into private healthcare, we have entered an era of price transparency in the private healthcare market. 

Hospitals are publishing their prices; consultants are publishing their consultation fees. We are entering an era of open competition and consumerisation for self-payers. 

Patients and their relatives are shopping around, seeking out prices for surgery and comparing the offers available for the operation they need but are not willing to wait for in the NHS.