Private medical insurance becoming less popular

| September 7, 2012
Private medical insurance becoming less popular

Fewer individuals are taking out standalone private medical insurance (PMI) policies, although demand for company PMI schemes returned to growth last year.

According to new figures from healthcare intelligence provider Laing and Buisson, the number of private medical insurance policies in existence in 2011 fell by 0.2 per cent compared with the previous year, to 3.97 million.

This represents a substantial improvement from the previous two years, when the number of PMI policies fell by 8 per cent in both 2009 and 2010.

However, although company schemes have returned to growth, fewer individuals are taking out personal plans.

The number of individual-paid policies fell by 4.2 per cent in 2011, continuing the downward trend seen in 2009 and 2010 when numbers fell by 3.7 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively.

Less than one million individually-paid-for plans were in existence last year and total spending on medical insurance fell by 2.9 per cent to £4.25 billion.

Less than 11 per cent of the population of the UK is now covered by PMI which is the lowest level for more than 20 years.

Overall, the UK market for PMI is stabilising, Laing and Buisson said.

Economist Philip Blackburn, the author of the report, said: “Record low take-up of private medical cover by individuals, despite a wide choice a low cost policies and downgrade options, highlights continued vulnerability in this area.”

Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics has reported a two-year increase in healthy life expectancy years in the period 2008-10 compared with 2005-07.

Males are now expected to spend 81 per cent of their lives in very good or good general health, while females can expect to enjoy good or very good general health for 80 per cent of their lives.

However, although the proportion of life spent in good health is increasing in England and Wales, it is falling in Scotland and Northern Ireland, according to ONS figures.

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