AXA PPP healthcare is writing to specialists to invite them to sign a contract that will confer 'fee approved specialist' status to secure quality, cost effective treatment for private medical insurance scheme members.
The insurer said that fee approved specialists will enjoy important benefits by working with AXA PPP including the reassurance that their fees will be paid in full in accordance with their contract, removing any financial consideration from their relationship with their patients.
Fergus Craig commercial director at AXA PPP said: "We currently help our members to find specialists in around 15% of all referrals, and we expect this to rise to around 30% by the end of next year and, going forward, to over 50%."
Doctors who choose to become a fee approved specialist may additionally receive preferred access to patient referrals from AXA PPP's Fast Track Appointments service.
Specialists who do not choose to become a fee approved specialist will be designated as a fee limited specialist and will only receive reimbursement of their fees up to the limits in AXA PPP's published Schedule of Procedures and Fees.
AXA PPP will be introducing a revised version of this schedule on 01 October 2015.
The revised schedule will be published on the AXA PPP website in mid-August in order to give specialists and its members more than a year's notice of the changes.
Craig continued: "There are significant challenges in UK private healthcare - demand for private healthcare insurance has been in decline for a sustained period and, given the prevailing economic climate, affordability of premiums is a challenge both for individual customers and for employers. Alongside this challenge, the Competition and Markets Authority has called both for an improvement in the information available to patients on the clinical care they receive and for greater certainty to private patients that their healthcare costs will be met in full by their insurer.
"In this environment, we must secure the best possible value for our members to protect their interests, now and in the future, and to ensure that the private medical insurance market is maintained for the benefit of insurers and providers of healthcare services alike. We are confident that our initiative to enter into formal agreements with specialists will play an important role in securing healthcare cover for our members that's affordable and sustainable in the longer term."