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There is no time like the present to talk about PMI with clients

By Dr Keith Klintworth, Managing Director, VitalityHealth

Published: 13/01/2022

From limited care access to risking unexpected high costs, there are multiple reasons why now is the time to discuss the benefits of private medical insurance (PMI) with clients, writes Dr Keith Klintworth, Managing Director for VitalityHealth.

Given the challenges currently placed on our national health service, as the UK continues to struggle under unprecedented strain from an ongoing pandemic, it’s no surprise that people are considering private treatment.

Despite this, a significant majority of the UK population still do not have private medical insurance (PMI). This is despite the important role it can play – not just in covering private hospital treatment, but through helping clients access primary care, diagnostics and much more.

High potential treatment costs

What people might not expect is that the cost of private treatment for both common and rare conditions can regularly rise to tens of thousands of pounds.

According to analysis into hospital costs by Vitality1, the average cost to go private for a hip or knee replacement is around £12,000. For cancers, data suggests that private treatment for breast cancer on average costs c.£35,000, compared to c.£22,500 for prostate cancer. To have a cardiac stent fitted privately, the average cost is c.£10,000, while a cardiac valve replacement on average amounts to as much as c.£13,500.

Peace of mind

Compare these costs with the average PMI premium in the UK, which is £125 a month2  (with more than one person often covered under a plan). Not only does PMI spread payments to avoid a nasty financial shock occurring if a medical issue does arise, it offers clients peace of mind that they can get fast access to care should the worst happen.

One of the main challenges faced by health insurance advisers is the question around cost versus value. A client might ask, why pay a monthly premium for something that might never happen?

While there is clearly more to PMI than just cover for hospital costs, a logical response to this would reference the incidence data. One in two people in the UK will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime3, while as many as 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart or circulatory disease in the UK4. This accounts for only two of many serious health conditions that could possibly occur during a client’s lifetime.

Access to treatment

As we saw when Georgie Round shared her powerful breast cancer story last year, private medical insurance provides fast access to cancer care while others would have waited weeks – months even – for consultations, test results and scans.

Georgie had not yet turned 30 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She was not only able to get an early PET and CT scan – both uncommon for someone her age – but her PMI through Vitality also allowed her to get on with her life and do the things she enjoys even while having regular bouts of chemo. She even trained for and competed in a professional showjumping competition that she finished first place in.

More than just cover

As well as highlighting the potentially life-saving role of fast access to treatment at this time, Georgie’s story also serves as a reminder of the need to start conversations about the benefits of PMI with younger clients. Premiums are likely to be cheaper, and they are less likely to suffer from pre-existing conditions which would usually not be covered by insurers.

There’s also the availability of digital healthcare services, including virtual GPs, mental health support and access to condition management tools, alongside additional incentivised rewards and benefits designed to deliver immediate value and prevent clients from getting ill in the first place.

We live in a world changed beyond recognition by the Covid-19 pandemic. Wellbeing is in the spotlight as people reconsider how lifestyle choices can impact their long-term health. A PMI offering that delivers a tangible wellness solution, as well as assurance that the best quality care can be accessed when it is needed, is far more attractive today than it ever has been.

“There is no time like the present to talk about the benefits of PMI with clients. A statement that rings true much more so now than it did before the pandemic.”

- Keith Klintworth, Managing Director, VitalityHealth

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Where to next?

  • Why 'Next Best Action' is the future of prevention

    ‘Next Best Action’ uses behavioural science to encourage clients to quit smoking, become a healthier weight or get active in a way that will add healthier years to their lifespan.

  • The future of Personalised Health. Now

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  •             Vitality Academy           

    We have a host of content for advisers who want to start being active in the PMI market. Our convenient digital learning offers easy mobile access and you can also claim CPD by completing courses.

1. Vitality Claims data 2019-2020