Private Healthcare Market


Under the last Labour Government, the take up of private healthcare shrunk from 14% of the population to 10% due to improvements in the NHS. However, the switch in 2010 to a coalition government was the start of reversing that trend. Government cuts earmarked in 2010 are now starting to bite across the public sector, with local councils and the NHS being prime targets. As some hospitals close, staff are made redundant and the NHS contracts, so the UK private healthcare market is expanding.

Private Healthcare Market

Expansion of Private Healthcare Market

Until the nineteen nineties there were only a few UK private healthcare companies and health insurance companies but these have expanded rapidly over the last few years. Most private healthcare policies used to be those provided by companies for their employees but more recently there has been an upsurge in the number of private individuals taking out private healthcare insurance. The growth in the private healthcare market may also have been influenced by the fact that the UK has an aging population who will need an increasing amount of medical care as the years go by.

Competition in Private Healthcare

Private healthcare is a product like any other product and the growing number of providers in the UK means that there is increased competition with regard to service provision and price. Those individuals who can afford to take out private healthcare insurance are now shopping around to see what range of cover their money will buy and whether and in what ways that provision might be better than that offered by the NHS. While the demand for private healthcare may be growing, most companies in the private healthcare market have quite a broad list of exclusions, which means that many people in the UK will not have access to the private healthcare market because their age or certain conditions preclude it.

Exclusions in Private Healthcare

The UK population is an aging one and many private healthcare companies will not insure new clients who are over the age of 60 while other companies may place their limit at 75, which puts the care of the aged firmly back in the lap of the NHS. The majority of private healthcare companies will not provide cover for any kind of mental illness, largely because mental illness is often a chronic condition that is difficult and expensive to treat. Companies in the private healthcare market are generally agreed that there are certain chronic conditions that they do not supply cover for, including diabetes, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and emphysema. People with chronic conditions often require ongoing treatment in outpatient clinics, something that most policies do not cover, or will only cover as an extra module.

Health Equality

The private healthcare market may not function as well as the NHS in certain circumstances, for instance if a cosmetic procedure has gone wrong, the patient often has to go back to the NHS for corrective surgery. The fact is that many people who use the NHS have access to the same consultants as they would in the private sector because most consultants in private practice give some of their time to the NHS. What the private healthcare market has to offer patients is better accommodation during their hospital stay and less time spent on operation waiting lists.


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