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Medical insurance sales increase following superbug outbreak

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by Kay Mitchell

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium that is present naturally in the gut of around 3% of adults and 66% of children. C. diff infections are usually caused by antibiotics, most cases usually happen in a healthcare environment such as a hospital or care home. Cases of C. diff rose to 55,634 in 2006 and official statistics indicate that up to 60,000 people could be infected in 2007.

Following this superbug epidemic, the medical insurance sector is experiencing an increased in sales of individually purchased cover, following many years in which the market weakened.

In 2006, over one million consumers subscribed to personal medical insurance. Personal and group plans now cover nearly 6 million adults and children in the UK. A 1.8% increase in the sale of personal medical policies during 2006 was noted and sector experts believe that this was due to fears about contracting an infection in a National Health Service hospital.

The more common superbug MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is dwindling. Infections caught in hospital, though, still affect 10% of patients and the recent rise of C. diff cases has increased death rates for hospital infections and doubled the length of hospital stay for those who contract the infection and survive.

65% of people taking out medical insurance believe it will give them access to clean hospitals, according to Bupa Insurance. The leading UK private hospital providers, including BMI, Bupa and Nuffield, all claim to have good hospital acquired infection records. In summary, they experience only a few cases a year, none of which are classed as life-threatening.

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News posted: August 1, 2007

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