Any unexpected event is an opportunity to take stock and review your financial arrangements, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. One of the key questions that people have been asking from a protection perspective is, “Should I consider private medical cover?”
While money might be tight, it’s essential to remember that the benefits of access to private treatment are more valuable now than ever. In the following post, our expert team have outlined the key reasons why private medical insurance should remain a priority for all of us.
Mental Health Crisis
Among many key benefits, fast-track access to mental health treatment has never been more important. Figures released by The Office for National Statistics in May show that there has been a huge increase in levels of anxiety in adults across the UK as the impact of the pandemic becomes all too real.
With concerns over mental, financial and physical health and security at an all-time high, almost half of people (49.6%) in the UK reported high levels of anxiety in a survey taken at the end of March. As this coincided with the beginning of lockdown, these figures are surely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the serious impact that coronavirus has had on the emotional health of our nation.
Whether you’re an individual with private healthcare cover or an employer offering PMI as part of an employee benefits package, these figures suggest it is highly likely that access to mental health support will prove crucial sooner rather than later to ensuring you – and your employees – can maintain a healthy quality of life and avoid the impact of the pandemic running far deeper than necessary.
Emotional and Financial Wellbeing
With the link between mental health and financial wellbeing firmly intertwined, private healthcare cover also makes good business sense for employers. This is a time when your employees need to feel safe and supported, and for you to prove that you can be there for them during good times and bad.
As the ONS survey also showed that individuals’ most common concerns related to their wellbeing, their work and their finances, staying in their corner during this time will encourage loyalty and employee retention. Against a precarious economic backdrop when people are anxious about planning and saving for their future, this is one of the best opportunities that employers have to demonstrate support for their workforce.
Away from mental health support and on a more general healthcare level, private healthcare policyholders have expressed concerns that they do not have the same level of access to services that they did prior to the pandemic. While access to some services has inevitably been restricted, current forecasts suggest that services will start to transition back to normal as early as the end of August.
It’s also important to note that insurers are still putting customers first when it comes to the likelihood of a reduced service. Rebate pledges by some insurers are promising to pass back any exceptional financial benefit arising as a result of COVID-19 while others are offering support with payments such as deferral options for some customers.
In addition, insurers have quickly adapted their policies in the light of the crisis to continue providing people with added value in the form of remote services including online GP appointments, Buddy services to combat loneliness and 24-7 helplines offering crucial services such as discussing symptoms with a nurse, checking medication with a pharmacist, understanding test results or checking in with a midwife about any pregnancy-related queries.
It’s also essential to look at the situation with a long eye. The Association of British Insurers has said that it expects the value of taking out PMI to be highlighted later this year when the waiting list is expected to grow to 10 million people. Indeed, NHS waiting times were untenable prior to the pandemic and anybody whose treatment has been put on hold during this time will ultimately gain far quicker access to it once regular services resume.