‘Complacent’ PMI sector needs to do more – Bupa

Complacency is holding back the private healthcare sector from working towards reforms that are more necessary than ever says Bupa UK general manager Alex Perry.

Speaking at the Private Healthcare Summit this week, Parry said insurers and hospital groups need to work together so that the customer experience can be improved and coverage increased amongst the population.

Perry said: “The UK economy is growing, our country’s population growth has reached record levels and employment is also at a record high, but the private healthcare sector is in no better place than it was a year ago. The challenges are real and the need for fundamental reform is more pressing than ever.

“There are some signs of change in the market, with the Competition and Markets Authority’s rulings to improve information and transparency on quality. It is heartening to see this progress – but much more needs to be done quickly because customers are losing out. To be frank, in the face of this our actions appear to be complacent as a sector.”

“I believe a brighter future for private healthcare is possible. We can only turn this opportunity into a reality by working together – improving the customer experience, demonstrating the quality we deliver and improving affordability.

“We know that we need to play a full part in making this happen, and this starts with making sure we deliver an even better service and improved affordability. This needs insurers and hospitals to engage constructively in partnership.  Our long-term agreement with Spire hospitals shows how together we can find a better way forward – we will be looking to work with our other hospital providers in a similar way. Some may be less willing to collaborate, but we will continue to push hard for better value for our customers. There is no alternative if our sector is to survive.

“The only we way can truly improve the outlook for our sector is by delivering greater volume growth, bringing more people into our market.”

Premier Choice Group head of healthcare Claire Ginnelly says: “It is really encouraging to hear Bupa state how it is trying to work with the private hospitals to reduce costs and ultimately help grow the market.  

“It is important for insurers, hospitals and intermediaries to work together to make this growth happen as it can often feel like an ever decreasing circle. Cost is the main reason we are given by people as a barrier to entering into the private medical insurance market. A lot of the insurers are already taking costs containment measures by introducing treatment pathways and consultant networks, which helps keeps premiums to a minimum, but we do not want to see too much restriction on choice so it erodes one of the big benefits of purchasing private medical insurance.

“If all stakeholders acknowledge we are in it together and behave accordingly this can only be positive for the future of the market.”