NHS Decline Prompts Brits to Consider Private Health Plans

The NHS has big problems in the UK and everyone knows it. Whether the local Trusts are managed by Scottish, Welsh or English governments, outcomes since Covid are generally poor; ambulance waiting times are up, (thanks LTN planners) treatment lists are lengthening. Strikes, large pay demands and cancel culture highlight the divisive politics that permeates many NHS workplaces too. Many doctors seem to spend more time on Twitter “supporting the current thing” than they do in a surgery or hospital. So it’s no surprise that more people are looking at private healthcare plans, especially as NHS doctors and specialist consultants rush to set up their own companies, or freelance in the private hospital sector.

Here’s the word on UK consumer survey;

In a recent survey commissioned by private healthcare experts myTribe Insurance and conducted by YouGov, 2,344 British adults were asked whether they have private health insurance, and if they might consider it in the future. The survey found that 14% of UK adults now have some level of health insurance, with 44% saying they’d consider it if they had the money. However, 1 in 3 (33%) respondents said they wouldn’t consider it, even if they could afford it. Some basic plans, which effectively act as a back-up if the NHS cannot see you, or treat you within certain timeframes, can cost as little as £12-£18 per month. That’s the cost of two drinks at Glasto.


Most of those with health insurance have it through work, with 7 in 10 (71%) receiving cover this way and the remaining (29%) paying themselves or through another family member. While employers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a similar probability of offering health insurance to employees (all close to 10%), only 3% of people in Wales have health insurance through work. There is a huge opportunity here for insurance brands who can design affordable workplace plans for employers, who want to reain staff by offering private health as part of the employment contract.

The survey found that 25–49-year-olds were the most likely to have private health insurance, with 1 in 5 (20%) having cover. However, while far fewer over 65s have health insurance (8%), almost half (48%) said they would consider it if they had the money.

In the same survey, people without private health insurance were asked how likely or unlikely they were to take out a policy in the future, with only 10% saying they were quite likely or very likely. Those living in London were the most likely to get a policy (18%), with people living in the Midlands coming in a touch lower at 11%.


Perhaps surprisingly, 18–24-year-olds said they were most likely to take out a policy in the future, with 17% saying they are either quite or very likely. The older people were, the lower the probability they’d take out a health insurance policy, with 82% of those between 50-64 ruling it out, and 9 in 10 (92%) of over 65s also saying it’s unlikely to happen. Part of the reason is pre-existing medical conditions of course, which would bump up the premiums. Plus many older people in the public sector are quite keen to get out early, rather than wait for age 67-70 when State pension kicks in. A medical retirement on the grounds of stress, injury, long term debilitating condition etc can be preferable to working another decade.

For insurers, the solution for offering affordable private cover to the over 50s could be app-based lifestyle tracking. That way those with fewer vx jabs, non smokers, active fitness fans etc can obtain private healthcare.

Despite the well-reported issues facing the NHS, most Brits (69%), admit to knowing little or nothing about health insurance in the UK. This is perhaps the most astonishing finding in the survey. There is a huge amount of information online.

Chris Steele, Founder of myTribe Insurance, commented: 

“Affordability of private health insurance remains a significant obstacle for those looking at cover, which is felt most acutely by the over 50s, where premiums tend to be higher. However, this survey shows that if price wasn’t an issue, a significant proportion of the public would consider taking out a policy. In recent years, health insurers have introduced new ways to reduce the cost of policies, such as “Guided Consultant” options, which limits your access to a smaller pool of private consultants, in return for an approximate 20% reduction in premiums. While this may still be out of reach of many, it is a step in the right direction allowing more people to access private health insurance in the UK.”


About alastair walker 12548 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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