The Telegraph reports today that many British expatriate workers take the view that 'it won't happen to me' when it comes to health insurance:
Rocketing premiums faced by expats seeking to insure themselves for private medical care have forced many to reject any sort of cover. Thousands of Britons every year aiming to enjoy life abroad must ponder whether to join the ranks of the medically uninsured.[..]
The second most common reason for not insuring was "I am in good health and don't think I will fall ill." That response came from 25 per cent of respondents.
So are a quarter of uninsured expats simply careful with their money or just plain foolhardy?
The FT notes the marked improvements in technology initiatives to support medical insurers and their customers:
VitalityHealth have launched an app that gives access to a medical professional via telephone, as well as video appointments within 48 hours.
‘Vitality GP’ will co-ordinate treatment that includes, on the clinical side, home-based services such as blood samples taken by medical professionals and delivery of prescriptions through the LloydsPharmacy network.
In other news the Chancellor's latest budget has many pondering the consequences for the private health insurance market with the coming rise in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT). The Actuary points out it could result in an upto 15% rise in PMI premiums, while Workplace Savings & Benefits point out it will increase pressure on an already squeezed corporate market:
The industry estimated the increase in the basic rate of IPT from 6% to 9.5% from November 2015 would add between £10 to £12 to the average buildings and contents policy, and between £12-£13 to an annual motor insurance bill.
“This will result in private medical premiums increasing by between 7.5% and 15.5% a year. It will also impact employees' taxable benefit, as IPT is included in an employee's overall P11D liability,” [Naomi Saragoussi from PWC] said. “An increase in premiums due to an increase in IPT may result in some individuals and companies unable to afford private medical cover, increasing pressure on the NHS.”
Speaking at PBUK last week, consultant Barnett Waddingham warned that the corporate private medical insurance (PMI) market was already unsutainable in its current format.
Axa PPP healthcare distribution director Chris Horlick noted that increasing the rate of IPT would "potentially make the provision of private medical insurance less affordable to many larger employers - at a time when many such employers need their people to be healthier and more engaged and productive than ever, and when pressures on the NHS are increasing."
The more than 50% increase in insurance premium tax (IPT) could cause employers to cut back on private healthcare provision while making healthcare trusts more attractive.
Seperately, MoneyWise report on the new low cost health cover that is being pitched to public sector workers:
HealthBridge, launched by civil service and public sector insurer CS Healthcare (CSH), covers the treatment of all conditions except cancer and heart problems (though policyholders will be able to use the policy to pay for testing and diagnosis in those two areas).
The product launch comes on the back of research conducted by CSH that indicates 23% of public sector workers want private medial insurance (PMI) but cannot afford it.
A family of four (including two 35-year-olds with two children under 12) living in the South West, Midlands or Wales would pay £56.66 a month for HealthBridge - compared to £180 a month for CSH's own full PMI.