Surge predicted for patients with medical insurance

A rush of patients with private medical insurance could be on the way, a new survey suggests.

Insurance and occupational health services are increasingly being considered by bosses to safeguard staff’s health and well-being and attract new talent.

Polling of 1,000 businesses by Savanta on behalf of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) found a quarter (25%) of all businesses now offer their staff insurance – and another 20% plan to introduce it in the next year.

And nearly a fifth (18%) of employers are planning on introducing occupational health services over the next 12 months, as they take action to counteract concerns about lengthening NHS waiting lists having a significant impact on staff health.

IHPN chief executive David Hare said: ‘We know from our research that pressures on the health service are a real concern for businesses; they are having an impact on staff absence rates and productivity.

‘So it’s no surprise to see that a growing number of businesses are looking at putting in place additional support to improve the health and well-being of their staff.’

Over half of organisations (51%) expressed concerns NHS waiting times could mean staff had long absences or left work permanently due to sickness.


IHPN said the trends were particularly evident in medium and large businesses, where almost two-thirds (64%) said they were concerned about the risk of long waits. Nearly a third (32%) were considering private medical insurance in the next year, with 35% intending to bring in occupational health.

Over a quarter (27%) of all businesses – increasing to over a third (35%) of those employing in excess of 1,000 people – say sickness absence rates have increased in their organisation over the last 12 months.

Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed over 2.6m people have no jobs due to their ill health.

There are 6.9m people in the UK who have private medical insurance, and more than three-quarters of these policies (76%) are provided as a workplace benefit. 

Recent studies have shown private medical insurance is important to the British workforce when they are choosing their next job, with 32% of people ranking it as their most desired benefit, according to a recent report by Zest.

He said: ‘Our recent study, Going Private found that half of all people would be more likely to apply for a job if PMI was part of the overall package.

‘It’s particularly attractive to younger people – over two thirds of 18-24-year-olds said they’d be more likely to apply for a job if PMI was included as a benefit.’

*Polling conducted by Savanta as part of its UK Business Tracker – Combined Businesses – Wave 37 from October 6-25