Sean Kennedy, Usay Compare director, oversteps the barriers brokers face when facing clients
According to Cancer Research, one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. While this figure alone is concerning, research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) also shows that Britain is now bottom of international league tables for cancer survival, lagging two decades behind some countries for various types of diseases.
With pressure mounting on the NHS, it is increasingly clear there is simply not enough resource to cater for those eligible for NHS care. In fact, a recent report from the NHS highlights that nearly 90% of patients waited up to 18 weeks from referral to treatment.
Despite these statistics, take up of private medical insurance (PMI) amongst the UK population remains low. According to The Kings Fund, only around 11% of the UK population are covered with some form of PMI.
Due to the NHS acting as the natural solution to the majority of the UK's ailments, PMI is commonly misunderstood. For this reason, we wanted to break down the top myths associated with PMI so that brokers are ready to tackle each one with their clients.
- PMI isn't needed
‘I'm fit and healthy; why would I need health insurance?' We live in a society where people are overly optimistic about their own health, and often adopt the ‘it will never happen to me' attitude. As a result, clients often fail to recognise the potential risks they face — an element that is central to health insurance choices. This is why young, healthy people often forgo health insurance.
Many clients will be happy to protect their valuable assets such as their home, pets, and even expensive devices without hesitation. However, if they were to be diagnosed with an unexpected illness, most of these items would become meaningless.
Some clients fail to realise that insurance is designed to cover what may happen in the future, not what has already happened. Nobody wants to think about the potential impact of an illness, so many don't act on purchasing PMI until they have an existing medical condition and opt ‘to go private' to get it treated.
It would be much better if clients took out PMI when they are fit and healthy. If they don't act on purchasing PMI until they have an existing medical condition, then typically that condition will not be eligible for private cover. It's therefore important to encourage people to think about PMI when they are feeling well, so that they will be protected for conditions developed in the future.
- PMI is long-winded
The process of applying and setting up PMI is extremely straightforward. Even if a client is new to PMI, there is generally no need for them to complete an application form, nor to declare a long history of medical information. The process can take as little as 30 minutes to complete for instant coverage. Not only that, but a good adviser will do all the work for their client anyway, making it hassle-free.
- PMI is complicated
Insurance is not always the easiest topic to understand. With so many different types of underwriting, insurers, hospital lists and levels of cover to choose from, PMI is something that should be discussed with an adviser. By asking the right questions, understanding the client's requirements, and then talking through the different options available in a jargon-free manner, advisers will find that clients are often quick to change their minds on just how complicated PMI really is.
- PMI is expensive
Perhaps one of the biggest myths associated with PMI is down to cost. Many people view PMI as a product financially out of their reach. However, more often than not, people are pleasantly surprised when they come to realise the true cost of this type of protection. The cost of PMI ultimately varies by provider and policy, but by having the right conversations and gaining a full picture of a client's financial position, it is often easy to find a policy that is financially viable and tailored to their needs. True, price is generally determined by age, postcode and the level of coverage selected, but provided the product matches the client's needs and budget, PMI is often affordable.
Even so, perspective is key when engaging with clients to allow them to understand the cost of PMI. The majority of people are happy to part with a three-figure monthly fee for a TV and broadband subscription, yet many are not so keen to pay out for a PMI policy. Having honest conversations with clients by contextualising the price of PMI can help them to realise that this type of cover is actually less than some of their monthly subscriptions.
- PMI means I can't use the NHS
Clients may believe that when they take out a PMI policy, their NHS access becomes restricted. This could not be further from the truth; PMI is designed to work in partnership with the NHS. People are still entitled to use an NHS GP as the point of referral, and it is at this point the patient has a choice to proceed with the appropriate treatment privately, or through NHS care.
For some, the main motivation is to get a speedy diagnosis for their condition in order to find out what the problem is as quickly as possible. They can choose to use their PMI plan to do just that. From this point the options remain open to the client, to have treatment in a private setting or an NHS one.
The myths around PMI are unlikely to disappear overnight, so intermediaries have a vital role to play in educating clients on PMI.
With the UK population growing year on year since 1982, pressures facing the NHS are only bound to increase. PMI simply provides greater choice, and better control over an individual's health.
As the old saying goes, ‘health is wealth', and as an industry we need to continue working together so every person is fully aware of the invaluable benefits that PMI provides
35 regulated firms in default
3% cashback each month
'You can tell it's general election season'
Sharing sensitive health data