POSTED: February 25 2016


Policy and product affordability has become one of the main focal points for a number of medical insurers. Providers such as AXA PPP healthcare and Aviva have launched products centred around an affordable price point aimed at new demographic markets.

AXA PPP healthcare’s AccessHEALTH, for example, focuses on providing key early support to employees with health issues. Other newly launched products within the industry such as Aviva’s Cancer Essentials provides a number of additional means of support upon a cancer diagnosis.

ADVO’s Emma Shaw commented in ‘Health Insurance & protection Daily’ on these new products being introduced into the market, advising of the products’ strengths and potential limitations. She comments on Aviva’s Cancer essentials “Alongside the money for non-NHS funded cancer drugs, this plan pays out £5,000 on diagnosis of cancer. This would help with expenses such as bill payments, but would not go anyway towards funding private cancer treatment”, she continues “It’s less a peace of mind option and can give a false hope of total cover.”

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva UK Health, also commented with the Health Insurance and Protection article “There’s only so far you can go to reduce the cost of traditional PMI before it loses its value,” he says. “With Cancer Essentials we ran consumer research to understand their health concerns and this showed that, although they believe the NHS provides good cancer care, they would buy a top-up such as this if they could.”

Outside of the article Emma commented “I would say that there is a definitely a demand for low cost PMI, there many clients just want to avoid NHS admission if something big happens.

In these circumstances self-funding for consultations and diagnostic tests can be expensive so in my experience only certain types of clients apply for these policy types with eyes wide open to the cover limitations. Many insurers now offer full cancer cover on budget plans which is a huge selling point.

Often when explaining limitations on budget policies to wider clients and their exposure to self-funding they often realise that they could not afford to claim in many instances.

With recent high profile deaths from cancer, many potential new clients are specifically concerned with the disease with experience of friends and family. Cancer specific products are an affordable way of obtaining peace of mind for them if and when the worst happens. However again it is important to understand the financial pay-outs which may be fairly low.

I always recommend a value for money approach when deciding on policies and cover. Cheap is not always best.

Promoting medical insurance and its advantages in a time when NHS is at the most overstretched it has ever been should result in guaranteed sales. However with the recent increase in insurance premium tax, and the ever increasing renewal premiums, the long term sustainability becomes questionable.

Issues in the market as I see it are:

– Decreasing choice with big insurers acquiring smaller companies
– Unsustainable pricing
– Increase in IPT
– Harmonisation of propositions, few insurers have any real USPs
– Unrealistic expectations of the PMI product – many clients want private emergency access, pre-existing conditions covered and cover for chronic ailments
– Not appealing to the young and healthy entering the market, with the remaining members on cover being an aging population
– PMI remains a luxury product when it is needed now more than ever

I would welcome more preventative cover in the market. Vitality Health’s approach to encouraging healthy living should be universal along with a prevention rather than cure mentality”.