Virtual GP services have become more popular since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK with Private Medical Insurance providers increasingly providing this service, our research has shown.
More people with Private Medical Insurance (PMI) have been looking for a diagnosis over the phone of online during the pandemic, making it increasingly more likely that virtual consultations could become the new norm in the future.
Due to the huge demand, PMI providers have been working hard to change the way virtual GP services are delivered and have introduced new health monitoring apps as well as opening up GP services to their non-PMI customers and even recruiting additional GPs.
ActiveQuotes’ Head of Partnerships Rod Jones says the onset of Covid-19 has brought about many changes for policy holders in how then can now access health services for advice and diagnosis.
“The virtual GP consultation has been steadily growing in popularity for some time but, following the outbreak of Covid-19, is one of the most significant changes to arise in the way policy holders are choosing to make the most of the cover they have in place.
What’s great about a virtual or video GP consultation at the present time is that it enables people to seek reassurance from a medical professional about more minor health issues without putting themselves at risk, whilst also taking pressure away from the NHS at a time when it needs private sector support the most.”
Significant policy changes during the Coronavirus pandemic include General and Medical, which has made their 24/7 GP helpline available for all its customers and has also added an Employee Assistance Programme to all corporate, sports and business clients.
CS Healthcare has added Open Referral to their existing GP24 services, enabling practising doctors to issue open private referral letters for conditions requiring further investigation so that policy holders can access healthcare required and all Vitality members can now access its GP advice line for information and clinical support – this was previously open to VitalityHealth customers only, but now it’s also available to VitalityLife and VitalityInvest holders too.
Mental health conditions related to COVID-19 are now available to Bupa policy holders via its digital GP services and GP and consultant referrals for ongoing treatment have been extended to up to three months during the coronavirus crisis. Consultations and physio sessions (where medically possible) are also now taking place via Virtual GP app.
Anyone applying for an AIG Life Insurance policy can also now access virtual medicals (some restrictions apply) and other providers such as WPA has also given policy holders the option to temporarily downgrade their health insurance policy to a cash plan, stripping out inpatient and outpatient benefits in favour of retained remote GP services, wellbeing helpline and NHS cash benefit services at a vastly reduced rate for the next three months.
Rod says these changes, although rather forced on insurers because of Covid-19, will have far-reaching consequences in the coming months and years ahead and predicts the sector, like many aspects of life, will have to get used to this new norm. He continues:
“It’s really great to see so many PMI holders making full and proper use of the protection they have previously put in place in anticipation of situations just like this, and to also see so many insurers working their socks off to meet the ongoing needs of their customers at the same time.
“It’s absolutely fascinating to see these developments within the insurance industry arising and watch the sector as we know it changing before our very eyes, in a way which could well disrupt ‘the norm’ forever.”
We’ve witnessed a spike in the number of virtual GP services due to Coronavirus, as well as increased contact from existing customers concerned about the level of cover they already have in place. Have a look at our policies to see if you can find one that suits you.