The jury is out as to whether the new Coalition government will be good or bad for the private medical insurance industry, according to panellists at the AMII conference on July 1.
Asked whether the new government was an opportunity or threat to the PMI sector, a panel of industry experts predicted changes that could both help and hinder the private medical insurance sector, but were unable to predict which would be the more significant.
Dr Karol Sikora of CancerPartnersUK said the coalition government could lead to a greater role for the private sector in healthcare delivery because the old ‘left versus right’ politics were less relevant.
But Mike Izzard, managing director of Premier Choice Group predicted an increase in people claiming on their policies could create cost pressures.
Sikora said: “We are getting a policy document from the government in two weeks, and the head of the NHS tells me he can’t wait for it. Even organisations like the Health Service Journal, normally a bastion of communist thought, is talking about the need for public private partnership.
“With the coalition, both parties have lost this left or right ethos, but it is still hard to predict what will happen.”
Philip Wright, head of healthcare, UK & Ireland at Munich Re said: “As we have seen with the insurance premium tax changes in the Budget, we are not on the government’s radar yet. Fixing the economy is on its radar, but we may be in the future.”
Izzard said: “The pressures we face are maintaining the affordability of premiums. The NHS budget is supposed to be ring fenced, but people with private healthcare will expected to use it, so I am worried about claims costs.
“If you go back five years to the AMII conference in Slough, Andrew Lansley was one of the speakers. Back then he talked about tax relief for healthcare for the over 60s. If any of you are one of his constituents, perhaps you should remind him of this.”