Consumers are increasingly convinced the NHS will deteriorate and are more willing to consider buying low-cost products to cover the shortfall.
A study from FirstAssist Insurance Services, which set out to identify consumers' concerns about the NHS and how they plan to respond, found 48% (57% for those over 55) expect to see the NHS deteriorate over the next 12 months.
Well over half (59%) expect waiting times for treatment or surgery to lengthen, while 40% expect to wait longer for diagnosis. On waiting times 32% are concerned about the NHS's ability to provide timely access to specialist consultants, while 32% also worry about the time it takes to get treatment.
First Assist said the response of many consumers will be to take greater responsibility for sourcing healthcare solutions for themselves that complement and work in tandem with the NHS.
Half said they would be prepared to think about buying products or services to cover the shortfalls in NHS provision about which they worry most. 41% said they would definitely or possibly consider such products, while 9% have already purchased cover.
Consumers were most interested in products that focused on reduced waiting times or providing better access to aftercare treatments. They would be prepared to consider products and services offered by a broad range of potential providers, including insurers, employers, financial services companies such as banks and building societies and affinity providers.
Chris Jones, Head of Product Management at FirstAssist Insurance Services, said: "There is growing evidence that consumers have a real appetite to take greater control of their, and their families', healthcare and not rely wholly on the public sector.
"It is up to us as an industry to rise to the challenge and deliver affordable, accessible and simple products and services which help address our customers' needs, particularly in areas such as speedier diagnoses or better aftercare."