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Seven healthcare trends based on Vitality PMI claims data

Published 17/10/2022

In light of the rapidly evolving nature of the healthcare landscape in recent times, these are the main trends currently impacting the PMI market, writes Vitality Chief Editor, Adam Saville.

People today expect much more than just access to treatment from their health insurance provider. As a result, private medical insurance (PMI) propositions have evolved to offer end-to-end experiences that start with prevention and go far beyond care itself.

By looking at our PMI claims data from 2021, we’ve identified seven trends that demonstrate how the healthcare landscape is shifting. 

These trends were recently published and explored in depth in our Health Claims Insights Report, but here is a brief round-up of the headlines.

1. Prevention is better than claim

There is growing evidence that promoting healthy lifestyles can improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. This gives the health insurance industry an opportunity to incentivise behaviour change to improve health and wellbeing to positively impact society. A staggering 88% of the UK’s preventable disease burden is lifestyle related1, which means prioritising positive lifestyle choices can make a significant difference. Analysis of VitalityHealth claims between 2017 and 2021 showed up to 46% lower claims costs for highly engaged members across the major claims categories2. This data shows how rewards have played a key role in incentivising its members to engage in healthier behaviours and improve their health as a result. Read more about the role of prevention within PMI here.

2. Use of primary care services has grown exponentially

With the NHS under immense pressure, Vitality has continued to invest and expand its digital primary care services. Primary care now accounts for more than 40% of all Vitality PMI claims and Vitality GP usage was up by 70% from 2019 to 2021. We’ve seen a higher number of consultations across all age groups and similar levels of engagement between men and women, suggesting there is growing familiarity and openness to digital primary care. As well as providing GP support and advice, Vitality GP has played a key role in providing members with referrals for further treatment. Read more here.

3. Cancer care is advancing

Cancer continues to be one of the main reasons why consumers consider private medical insurance. Vitality data shows that physical activity levels connected to the Vitality Programme correlate to the likelihood of cancer survival. Meanwhile, there has been a rise in cutting edge cancer treatments, and when a member is diagnosed with cancer, Vitality Advanced Cancer Cover provides access to an array of treatments, including where clinically appropriate, innovative treatments. In addition to a rise in cutting-edge treatments, we’ve seen more people opting for the convenience of being treated at home by our specialist team of clinically trained, patient centered professional and care consultants. Read more about cancer care here.

4. Engagement with digital healthcare journeys is at record levels

During 2021, Vitality witnessed a significant increase in the number users of its digital claims service, Care Hub. About 50% of the 35,000 unique visitors per month use it to request care. It also offered over 100,000 virtual healthcare consultations and about 80% of its Talking Therapies consultations are now digital. Many of its members are requesting claims and booking appointments with consultants through its new Premier Consultant panel, which has been built to provide greater transparency and peace of mind for members when choosing a consultant online. Read more here.

5. The UK is facing a growing health challenge

Vitality’s Talking Therapies service has played a critical role in supporting its members, as the mental health challenges of the pandemic continued over the previous year. In 2021, Talking Therapies accounted for over 80% of all mental health care, enabling Vitality members to access key services at a crucial time. Talking Therapies offers an effective way of avoiding more intensive treatment, by helping members manage and recover from common mental health conditions and potentially preventing the need for more intensive treatment and hospitalisation. Data show that 99% of users of Talking Therapies required no further treatment. As a result, Vitality has removed all medical underwriting and exclusions for mental health. Read more.

6. Demand for physiotherapy is increasing

In line with other primary care services, demand for physiotherapy is increasing. This growth has been supported by the option of requesting care online, with 60% of physiotherapy claims now going through a digital triage journey. Easy digital access means more members are likely to use the service. Indeed, 90% of claimants are seen face-to-face within two working days of asking for treatment, Vitality PMI data shows. Easy access combined with early intervention can help to prevent less severe conditions from deteriorating and means claims for more serious conditions can be reduced in the long term. Read more here.

7. Consultant-led pathways are driving the market forward

Directional care has been an important feature in the health insurance market. Last year, top health insurance brokers were estimating that guided care plans would account for between one quarter and one third of all new individual businesses in 2021. However, for guided care to be delivered effectively, it must be combined with emphasis on quality, transparency, and powered by data that ensures clients are equipped with the information they need to choose the consultant that is right for them. This is why we launched our Premier Consultant Panel and Cashback last year. Read more about this too here.

We recently made a series of enhancements to our PMI proposition. Read about them here.

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Where to next?

  • Seven reasons to choose Optimiser and why now

    Given that many clients will be on a tighter budget than usual right now, allowing them to pay up to 40% less for their life cover is just one of the benefits of Optimiser.

  • Why prevention is better than claim

    We sat down with Dr Katie Tryon, Director of Health Strategy for Vitality, to hear why prevention is playing such a prominent role within private medical insurance (PMI).

  • Insights hub

    Our Insights Hub brings you our range of adviser content - from video series to articles & blogs.

1 Global Burden of Disease database; Williamson, E., Walker, A. J., Bhaskaran, K. J., Bacon, S., Bates, C., Morton, C. E., ... & Cockburn, J. (2020)
2 Vitality Health Claims & Insights Report 2022