Marketing to younger patients could reap unexpected rewards, a new survey suggests.
The 18- to 24-year-old age group has raised eyebrows at the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) after it discovered they were the most likely to have used the private sector.
Four in ten have already done so. And nearly three-quarters of those under 34 would consider using private healthcare if needed, according to its report Going Private.
They are also more generally positive about the independent sector and the most likely group to have accessed private GP services.
The IHPN’s David Furness said: ‘It will probably surprise a lot of people that the age group with the greatest number of private health care users is 18- to 24-year-olds. Four in ten have used private healthcare – largely, we believe, for GP appointments, scans and diagnostics.
‘It’s a very interesting finding, showing young people seem to have a very pragmatic view when it comes to accessing the healthcare they need, and there is evidence of clear generational shifts in attitudes and behaviours. Younger people are seemingly more prepared to take immediate steps.’
Mr Furness added: ‘I think sometimes there has been a perception that people ‘don’t like’ private healthcare. In fact the majority of people are positive about it, especially those who’ve actually used it, and it’s only a minority (11%) who have negative views.’
IHPN research of 2,000 ‘representative people’ found affordability the biggest barrier to people accessing the system – but there is also a lack of awareness and absence of information evident. There could be an opportunity to empower patients by giving them much better information on costs and how to navigate the system.
Mr Furness said people did not always have a good idea about private costs. But 82% of those who paid themselves thought it was worth the money.
Self-pay was more popular with younger people and those from lower social grades.