Coronavirus: should I keep my health insurance?
With the UK in lockdown, confusion is growing about what we can do and the services we can access. When it comes to health insurance, the mixed messages are magnified as patients and customers read fresh headlines daily and wonder which sources are trustworthy and accurate.
In addition, in recent days the private hospital sector has agreed an historic pact with the UK government to make almost its entire private capacity available to the NHS, to help in the fight against Covid-19. As a private medical insurance (PMI) customer, you might think this means you’ll no longer get the service you’re paying for, but now more than ever is the time to make sure you have the right health insurance for you.
ActiveQuote head of partnerships and marketing Rod Jones said: “With all routine NHS operations and procedures cancelled and thousands of patients unable to even speak with their GP on the phone, waiting lists are set to get worse. If you have a private policy, new or existing, you will be able to access treatment sooner.
“It’s easy to think that health insurance only applies to consultations and treatment in private hospitals, but there are many more benefits to PMI than that. Virtual GP services, phone and video mental health support and employee assistance programmes are an invaluable part of health insurance, especially at this time of heightened financial worry and redundancies.”
In the recent deal, private hospitals will make available staff and equipment to the NHS, including 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 1,200 ventilators and almost 20,000 fully qualified staff. In London alone, this includes more than 2,000 hospital beds and more than 250 operating theatres and critical beds. The extra resources will not only help the NHS fight coronavirus but also to deliver other urgent treatments, such as cancer care.
The private healthcare industry has vowed to pull together to tackle the Covid-19 crisis, with the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) calling events ‘unprecedented’.
AMII executive chairman Stuart Scullion said: “This announcement is evidence of the continuing collaboration between the public and private sectors. The provision of an additional 8,000 beds and almost 20,000 healthcare staff will provide much-needed support if the coronavirus spreads as anticipated over the coming days and weeks.
“Unemployment, reduced hours and financial worries mean there is a key role for our members to play in support of clients.” Mr Scullion also advised PMI customers against cancelling policies with the aim of taking out new cover when coronavirus diminishes.
“PMI is not like a TV subscription service that you can cancel and recommence when you are ready,” he added. “Consumers need to protect their underwriting status and cover to ensure they do not find themselves with a new Moratorium or exclusions applied, and we would encourage anyone who is thinking of cancelling their cover to speak with their insurer before doing so.”
Our partner Bupa fully supports the partnership with NHS England and has introduced new measures to help customers during the crisis, including a new coronavirus hub offering support and advice.
A spokesperson said: “Health services across the country are under tremendous pressure and many families, individuals and businesses are facing great uncertainty. Bupa is in a position to help and we’re here to play our part. We are redirecting resources and people to support the NHS and other public bodies wherever we can during this difficult time.
“Across our network of health clinics, we are rapidly working through how we can offer GP services and other resources we have access to in order to support NHS 111 or other vital NHS services. As a significant provider of both private and public NHS dentistry, we are working to ensure we continue to offer emergency services in order to keep patients away from hospitals so they can focus on treating those that truly need help.”
Bupa also offers a range of health and wellbeing services that people can access from home during the national lockdown, including:
- Remote consultations with accredited physios for joint, muscle and bone issues
- Virtual GP appointments
- 24/7 nurse healthline for general health and wellbeing advice
- Family mental health line for parents and carers
To find the right private healthcare to help you and your family at this difficult time, compare health insurance prices and benefits here. You can also speak with our team on 0800 862 0373.