Private medical Insurers (PMI) have endorsed the Office of Fair Trading referring the UK healthcare market to the Competition Commission and said they will take an active part in investigations.
All insurers speaking to COVER shared concerns that there were aspects of private healthcare provision undermining competition, making it difficult for consumers, GPs and insurers to make informed choices between competing providers.
AXA PPP highlighted the principle that specialists should only be paid for services that they provide personally.
Fergus Craig, commercial director at AXA PPP healthcare, said: "We believe that consumers will be very surprised and disappointed to see that the OFT have found a number of inducements being paid to specialists in return for using particular hospitals or clinics."
"Specialists have a duty to ensure that their patients receive appropriate and cost effective treatment. Inducements of the kind noted by the OFT will inevitably give rise to concerns that they increase costs and incentivise unnecessary tests and treatment. We hope that this review will lead to an end to these market practices."
Bupa also applauded the referral, adding that the it will be "engaging" with the Commission.
Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, managing director, Bupa Health and Wellbeing said: "The millions of people with health insurance in the UK rightly expect it to provide them with high quality healthcare for an affordable price.
"For too long, the cost of private healthcare has been rising to unsustainable levels, in large part because of a lack of competition and efficiency in the private hospital market and among consultants in private practice.
We are pleased that the Competition Commission will now be investigating this and we will be engaging with them on behalf of our members."
Charlie MacEwan, corporate communications director at WPA, endorsed this view and added:: "This is exciting news, as we are working towards a more transparent market, and if the hospital and hospital markets become more transparent that can only be good for customers.
Aviva highlighted that patients do not currently have visibility of costs and quality when they are making choices about their healthcare provision.
Mark Noble, health and group risk director (UK health) at Aviva, commented: "We agree that the issues identified warrant more detailed investigation to determine if they are affecting competition and what remedies may be required to improve things.
"We also recognise that increasingly PMI cover is funded by employers and the lack of transparency is magnified at the whole company level.
"We look forward to taking part in the Competition Commission investigation."
‘Business as usual? Mental health and wellbeing in a post-pandemic era’ takes place on Monday
Prevention during a pandemic
Will Wood, previously head of UK SME strategy at Aviva, has joined insurtech firm
‘Prevention is better than cure’