Health insurance becoming unaffordable warns Bupa
The rising cost of private healthcare is pushing health insurance in the UK up to unaffordable levels, according to international healthcare group Bupa.
A lack of competition among private hospitals has led to the cost of treatment rising, and the insurer says that this could lead to health insurance becoming unaffordable.
An increase in the cost of its health insurance, together with the UK’s economic difficulties, led to a 5 per cent fall in customer numbers at Bupa’s UK insurance division in the first half of 2012.
Although Bupa negotiates with healthcare providers to keep the cost of its insurance down, some parts of the UK are served by just one private hospital.
The UK’s private healthcare sector is dominated by five main companies and this has prompted the Office for Fair Trading to refer the sector to the Competition Commission for investigation.
John Fingleton, the OFT’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The private healthcare sector is likely to continue to be of growing importance to the nation’s population and economy and so it is important that the market works well.
“Yet private patients and their GPs face difficulties selecting private healthcare providers on the basis of quality or value for money, and this may ultimately result in patients paying higher prices, or receiving lower quality care.”
The Competition Commission is expected to report on its findings in 2014.
According to Bupa’s chief executive Stuart Fletcher, the cost of private healthcare in the UK is double that of Spain and 80 per more than in Australia.
Passport2Health recently launched a new health insurance plan designed to help people to access private medical care in Europe.
The company claims the plans costs up to 50% less than traditional private health insurance, however many patients may not want the inconvenience of having to travel abroad for their treatment.