Consultants in private practice can expect a welcome increase in patients with private medical cover, according to an insurance industry survey.
Nearly 60% of Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries members expect to see a rise in demand over the next few months.
Four in ten respondents said they anticipate more patients wanting private healthcare, while 18% expect a significant increase.
When asked about the main opportunities for their business, a third of respondents cited lengthening NHS waiting lists as a driver for increased interest in private health insurance.
Several firms also identified the fact that private healthcare offers their clients access to digital healthcare and to fast treatment.
A further 35% expect an increase in demand from employers, with one in three of these looking at opportunities with small to medium-sized enterprises.
Almost a third highlighted opportunities for organic growth through things like client retention and quality service, an uplift in additional cover and benefits for existing and new clients, account development and referrals, and digital marketing and lead generation.
The insurance sales body, AMII, said only 10% of its members expected to see a decrease in demand in 2021.
When asked about the greatest threat facing their business, three in four of those who answered this question cited a challenging post-pandemic economy as a major threat.
AMII executive chairman David Middleton said: ‘The pandemic has undoubtably had an immense impact on healthcare in the UK, with disruptions to services, increasing waiting lists and a reduction in GP referrals and screening services.
‘The private health industry is well placed to reduce the burden on the NHS in these challenging times, ensuring people can access the healthcare they need, when they need it.
‘These findings shed light on the optimism of AMII members for the year ahead and we could indeed start to see more of a shift in how people access healthcare, leading to accelerated growth in our sector.
‘As the voice of the industry, it’s important for AMII to gather and share these kinds of insights and we were delighted to work with the team at The Exeter on this research.’
The Exeter head of sales Karen Woodley said: ‘We are encouraged by the level of optimism from the AMII membership.
‘It is important for us to seek feedback from advisers so we can continue to ensure our products and service meet the needs of advisers and their clients.’
Mark Allan, commercial director for Bupa UK Insurance, said: ‘The past year has amplified the importance of health and supporting people with their well-being. Insurers, consultants, therapists and healthcare services need to continue to drive innovation to ensure that we support the changing needs of our customers.’
A total of 47 members completed the survey.