Bupa UK's Alex Perry has called for fundamental reform of the private-paid sector driven by a collaborative approach across the entire market.
Speaking at the Private Healthcare Summit in London, Perry highlighted that despite the UK's economic growth and record levels of employment and population growth, the private sector is "in no better place than it was a year ago."
Perry said that despite signs of change in the market with the Competition and Markets Authority's rulings to improve information and transparency on quality, more needed to be done.
He added: "It is heartening to see this progress - but much more needs to be done quickly because customers are losing out. To be frank, in the face of this our actions appear to be complacent as a sector.
"I believe a brighter future for private healthcare is possible. We can only turn this opportunity into a reality by working together - improving the customer experience, demonstrating the quality we deliver and improving affordability.
"We know that we need to play a full part in making this happen, and this starts with making sure we deliver an even better service and improved affordability."
He concluded that insurers and hospitals should engage "constructively" in partnership.
He said: "Our long-term agreement with Spire hospitals shows how together we can find a better way forward - we will be looking to work with our other hospital providers in a similar way. Some may be less willing to collaborate, but we will continue to push hard for better value for our customers. There is no alternative if our sector is to survive."
Claire Ginnelly, head of healthcare at Premier Choice Group commented: "It is really encouraging to hear Bupa state how it is trying to work with the private hospitals to reduce costs and ultimately help grow the market.
"It is important for insurers, hospitals and intermediaries to work together to make this growth happen as it can often feel like an ever decreasing circle. Cost is the main reason we are given by people as a barrier to entering into the private medical insurance market."
She added: "A lot of the insurers are already taking costs containment measures by introducing treatment pathways and consultant networks, which helps keeps premiums to a minimum, but we do not want to see too much restriction on choice so it erodes one of the big benefits of purchasing private medical insurance.
"If all stakeholders acknowledge we are in it together and behave accordingly this can only be positive for the future of the market."