Canada Life Group Insurance has added a treatment sourcing service to its group income protection (GIP) and group critical illness (CGI) schemes providing fixed-price private medical treatments tailored to an individual's circumstances.
The service, launched in partnership with Medical Care Direct (MCD), is available online and by telephone, enabling users to have treatment at 450 private hospitals and NHS private patient units in the UK, and over 20,000 consultants.
MCD will negotiate and tailor packages for a wide variety of treatments, based on the individual's statement of what matters to them with regards to cost, location, timescale, specialist or other criteria.
Access to the service is normally provided at a cost of £35 per person per year, but is provided at no additional cost to both insured and uninsured employees of Canada Life's GIP and GCI policyholders, as well as to their immediate family members.
Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance (pictured) said the service had been launched in anticipation of the government's Health and Work Service (HAWS) pilot, which has been delayed to December.
Avis described the delay to the HAWS as "frustrating", particularly given the fact the government's Sickness Absence Review had first been launched in 2009.
He said: "I do not believe the speed of change and support for employers and employee health and wellbeing is quick enough. The Citizens Advice Bureau has already received 1.5 million complaints on Work Capability Assessments, the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment has being criticised and Universal Credit is nowhere near the number of people planned. The government and state need a sickness absence disability win. We are anxious to support the HWA service when its launched and getting incredibly frustrated with the delays.
"We've repositioned the launch of our treatment sourcing service designed as an opportunity for advisers to talk to their clients about the service prior to the pilot launch."
Avis also said he believed Canada Life's treatment sourcing service would help raise greater awareness of the benefits of private medical insurance (PMI) .
He said: "We've had queries from advisers, an unintended consequence of launching this service is that it will also benefit the PMI market. By individuals and employers having to fund treatment while MCD offers a competitive fixed cost, will raise awareness around the benefit of PMI and will help non-insured employees under the scheme and those with exclusions, as well as reducing family absences for the employer.
Jan Lawson, chairman of MCD added: "The media frequently reports how the NHS is stretched with lack of available beds, waiting lists rising, treatment levels not always being what they should, and higher risks of infection.
"With the UK economy picking up, many more people are now finding themselves in a position to ‘go private' as they consider it more of a viable option now. This applies particularly for routine surgery which includes elective surgery such as hip and knee replacements to avoid what could effectively be a painful wait.
"Also for those who can't get a speedy diagnosis and referral from their GP, they could consider seeing a private consultant to at least get the process started which we can help with - always moving back into the NHS system at a later date if they need to."
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