The UK has long had an enviable public health system, the NHS, which is free for all British citizens at the point of use. However, due to chronic underfunding, an ageing population, and the pandemic, more Brits than ever and their employers are turning to the private sector for their healthcare.
The Challenges Facing The NHS
It’s no secret in the UK that the NHS is experiencing some of the biggest challenges it’s ever faced. With record-breaking backlogs and waiting lists for routine and urgent care, and GP numbers reducing each year, understandably, people are looking for solutions.
For those already on waiting lists, there’s little choice but to wait it out or opt to pay for the treatment privately.
The Average Cost Of Private Treatment In The UK
Private healthcare and insurance website myTribe Insurance keeps track of the typical cost of surgery in the UK and updated its stats in August 2022.
They obtained quotes from private hospitals across the country to provide up-to-date figures on what people can expect to pay if they self-fund their surgery.
Prices for common private surgeries (August 2022)
- Adult circumcision – £2,132
- Carpal tunnel release – £1,849
- Colonoscopy – £1,761
- Gall bladder removal – £5,160
- Gastroscopy – £1,405
- Hip replacement – £12,976
- Knee replacement – -£13,800
- Shoulder replacement – £13,295
- Tonsillectomy – £2,624
Despite the cost, the British Medical Journal reported in March 2022 that the pandemic saw a “large rise in patients self-funding their surgeries”. The numbers are only going one way, and more people have to pay for private healthcare.
Low Employment With NHS Waiting Times Pushes Employers To Offer Private Medical Insurance
While the UK is about to go into recession, there is extremely low unemployment, last reported at just 3.7% by the Office for National Statistics on May 22.
This low employment rate, driven partly by Brexit, has created an extremely competitive job market, forcing employers to enhance their packages with benefits they perhaps wouldn’t have before.
Given the NHS’s issues, employers are increasingly choosing to provide their employees with private medical insurance. They know how vital healthcare access is in the UK, and even businesses that perhaps wouldn’t have offered it in the past are doing so.
How Much Does Business Health Insurance Cost In The UK?
The cost of health insurance for businesses and their employees is based on many factors, from the company’s location and the level of cover required to the age and number of employees needing cover.
However, research by myTribe Insurance in May 2022 provides some guidance as to what businesses can expect to pay for differing levels of cover.
|Employee Age||Key Cover (monthly premium)||Enhanced Cover (monthly premium)||Comprehensive Cover (monthly premium)|
While not inexpensive, it’s not stupidly expensive either, and you can see why employers might choose to add it to their employment package.
How Does Private Health Insurance Work In The UK?
Private health insurance in the UK isn’t designed to replace the NHS altogether – it works alongside it. Crucially, it only covers the treatment of acute medical conditions, so anything chronic, such as asthma or diabetes, would need to be cared for via the NHS.
Depending on the level of coverage an individual or business opts for, patients will either go via the NHS for their diagnosis (critical cover – basic policies) before being treated privately.
Or, if a comprehensive plan is taken out, they can be diagnosed privately too. Typically, most will opt for a comprehensive plan, as they don’t want to be stuck on a waiting list for tests and scans, which could delay their ultimate recovery.
Do International Visitors Need Health Insurance In The UK?
In the past decade, the UK has cracked down on so-called “health tourism”, where international visitors intentional come to use free NHS services. It’s now far stricter, and those visiting the UK for a short or extended period would be wise to get some form of insurance.
If it’s a short break, travel insurance will cover you, but if you’re visiting for more than a few months, it’d be sensible to get a private health insurance policy.
Does It Look Like Things Will Get Better For The NHS?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the situation will improve in the NHS any time soon. Winter is around the corner, which will likely increase the usual winter illnesses and a likely rise in Covid.
Unless the NHS can recruit a significant number of professionals, the UK is destined to move to a two-tier healthcare system, where those who can afford it will go private, and those that can’t have to wait.