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Saga: Over 50s health insurance needs to move with the times

25 September 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

Saga finds over 50s health insurance needs to move with the times

Research from Saga health insurance has unveiled the changing needs of the over 50s, in terms of what they expect from their health care and how they feel about the care they receive.

The priorities of the over 50s have changed during the last few years, the Saga health insurance study found, with hygiene and cleanliness taking a stronger role in urging them to choose private medical insurance over treatment on the NHS.

In 2007 and 2009, the top reason for choosing private medical insurance has been to avoid NHS waiting lists, followed by having the choice of when and where they could be treated. However, in 2007, the third most common reason was to get a better quality of care, but this has now been replaced with the hospital's cleanliness.

The increased news coverage of hospital bugs such as MRSA cropping up in NHS hospitals seems to have pushed the over 50s further towards private medical insurance, Saga believes, with 68 per cent of respondents citing the cleanliness of hospitals as a factor in choosing NHS or private.

Just one in 10 are happy with the level of hygiene in NHS hospitals, and a third of patients over 50 said they would not be comfortable receiving visitors in an NHS hospital, compared to 90 per cent who would be happy to receive visitors in a private hospital.

Some of the other factors in favour of PMI include being able to recuperate in comfort, getting a better quality of care, and having a choice of consultant.

Saga urges people to consider a variety of factor when choosing the right health insurance plan for them, as issues such as a private room, with home comforts like peace and quiet, individual televisions and refreshments can help with a speedy recovery.

Commenting on the findings, Andrew Goodsell, executive chairman at the Saga Group, said: "Today's over 50s are more active than ever before and want to live life to the full. If they suffer a medical problem they want to get treated and recuperate as quickly as possible. No wonder more than two million people aged 50 and over choose private medical insurance".

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