Corona: Will Virtual PMI GP Appointments Become the New Normal?

ActiveQuote, the UK’s leading protection insurance comparison website and broker, has seen a sharp rise in the number of people with Private Medical Insurance (PMI) accessing virtual GP services in recent weeks.

The number looking for a diagnosis online or over the phone has continued to increase since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK, fuelling predictions that virtual consultations could well become the norm in future.

PMI providers have also been working hard to change the way virtual GP services are delivered in response to the increase in demand by introducing new health monitoring apps and opening up GP services to their non-PMI customers, among other things, with some thought to be recruiting additional GPs too.

Rod Jones, Head of Partnerships at ActiveQuote, said: “The virtual GP consultation has been steadily growing in popularity for some time but, following the outbreak of Covid-19, is one of the most significant changes to arise in the way policy holders are choosing to make the most of the cover they have in place.”

“What’s great about a virtual or video GP consultation at the present time is that it enables people to seek reassurance from a medical professional about more minor health issues without putting themselves at risk, whilst also taking pressure away from the NHS at a time when it needs private sector support the most.”

Significant policy changes introduced during the Coronavirus crisis include:

Provider Update
General and Medical
  • 24/7 GP line now available for all customers (not previously offered with all policies).
  • Employee Assistance Programme added to all corporate, sports and business clients.
CS Healthcare
  • Open referral added to GP24 service – enables NHS practising doctors to issue open private referral letters for conditions requiring further investigation so that policy holders can access healthcare required.
  • All Vitality members can now access its GP advice line for information and clinical support – previously open to VitalityHealth customers only, but now also to VitalityLife and VitalityInvest holders too.
  • Now covers mental health conditions related to COVID-19 via digital GP services.
  • GP and consultant referrals for ongoing treatment extended to up to 3 months during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Consultations and physio sessions (where medically possible) now taking place via Virtual GP app.
  • Now accepting virtual medicals for new applicants on Life Insurance policies (conditions apply).

Other providers such as WPA have also given policy holders the option to temporarily downgrade their health insurance policy to a cash plan, stripping out inpatient and outpatient benefits in favour of retained remote GP services, wellbeing helpline and NHS cash benefit services at a vastly reduced rate for the next three months.

Tim Boyce at CFC Underwriting also thinks telemedicine is being scaled up rapidly given the Corona emergency, commenting on the CFC blog recently;

`From an insurance standpoint, there are myriad of emerging exposures which will undoubtedly arise from the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid adoption of telemedicine solutions.  As a result of this uncertainty, many insurance companies are loathe to extend to any telemedicine consultations involving COVID-19 symptoms and a number have actively sought to apply absolute coronavirus exclusions.

Specialist telemedicine programs have their own network of broadly licensed physicians that are ready and able to work. That helps to remove the barrier of bringing new physicians into the mix – but with the surge in demand they may be unable to fulfill those promises, and health systems may look to non-specialist providers who do not have the same strict credentialing, training or on-boarding processes.’

Rod said: “It’s really great to see so many PMI holders making full and proper use of the protection they have previously put in place in anticipation of situations just like this, and to also see so many insurers working their socks off to meet the ongoing needs of their customers at the same time.”

Rod said: “Insurers have had their hand forced somewhat when it comes to finding alternative ways to do business and are now making changes which are extremely likely to have a far reaching set of consequences across the industry in the weeks, months and year to come.”

“It’s absolutely fascinating to see these developments within the insurance industry arising and watch the sector as we know it changing before our very eyes, in a way which could well disrupt ‘the norm’ forever,” Rod said.

ActiveQuote is the UK’s leading comparison website and broker of health and protection insurance products, including private medical insuranceincome protectionlife insurance and critical illness cover.



About alastair walker 6830 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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