ABI and Bupa report rising popularity in private medical insurance

23 April 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
A growing number of people are choosing to take out private medical insurance, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

In 2007, more than six million people had private medical insurance(PMI) – a number which has not been seen for five years – with a total of 6,004,000 Brits being covered by either personal or corporate PMI, and a further million being covered though Healthcare Trust arrangements.

More than seven million people in Britain now have private health cover, the ABI has said, which coincides with its revised consumer guide on private medical insurance, aimed at ensuring that people buy the PMI policy that's right for them.

"It's good news that the popularity of Private Medical Insurance continues to grow", said Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance and health.

"Health insurance gives people access to the treatment they need, when they need it, offers greater privacy and better facilities, and reduces pressure on the NHS. And it enables employees to get back to work after illness or injury much more quickly than they otherwise would.

"This is good for companies and the economy, and is reflected in the rise in the number of people covered by corporate policies.

"The ABI's updated consumer guide will help to improve knowledge of the benefits of PMI. It will also help people make the right decisions and know what their responsibilities are when they take out PMI. The guide sets all this out in clear language, helping customers through the process of taking out PMI."

Bupa medical insurance figures also reinforce the ABI's findings, with Bupa experiencing a growing demand last year, which continued into 2008 with a 20 per cent increase on the same time last year, despite current economic conditions.

Fergus Kee, managing director of Bupa UK Health Insurance, said: "Our research shows that for 65 percent of Britons, access to clean hospitals is the most important reason for taking out PMI.

"MRSA and general hospital hygiene are clearly top concerns for people. The other top reasons people gave include no waiting, speed of access to specialists and the ability to see the same consultant throughout their treatment.

"And almost three quarters (74 percent) of people with PMI would recommend it to their family and friends. People also tell us that they value the fact that PMI gives them access to drugs and treatments not widely available on the NHS."

According to Bupa's research, PMI comes second only to a corporate pension as a desirable employee befit.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd