The continuing coronavirus crisis and lengthening NHS waiting times is causing more people to pay for private treatment according to a report in The Guardian.

Data shows that more people are self-funding treatment or buying private health insurance.

Compare The Market revealed an average 40% increase in year-on-year private health insurance sales over the past seven months. Kamran Altaf, the company’s head of life insurance, said: “We believe that during a time of considerable uncertainty, many customers value the additional reassurance private healthcare can bring.”

Insurance company VitalityHealth also reported increased inquires and sales, and London private hospital group HCA Healthcare said some self-pay surgeries had doubled from last year.

Independent Healthcare Provider Network chief executive David Hare said: “I think it’s a fairly general trend across the country that more patients are looking to fund their own care, and I don’t think that should come as a huge surprise. There’s been a steady growth in that over recent years anyway and we know that it is becoming more challenging to get prompt access to care in the NHS.”

Tim Gardner from The Health Foundation thinktank said: “Covid-19 has not impacted everyone equally, and there is clearly a risk that the backlog in routine hospital treatment is going to add to those inequalities if some people are able to get treatment faster because they’re able to pay.”

Date published: October 28, 2020

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