The NHS has struck an historic deal with the independent health sector to increase capacity and resources to fight Covid-19. Shifting these resources to support the NHS will have ramifications for medical insurance customers, with insurers looking at how to reflect this in their polices.
Under the deal, the private sector will provide an additional 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 12,000 more ventilators and more than 19,000 healthcare staff.
Among those providing capacity is Nuffield Health, which has made its 30 hospitals in England and Wales available to the NHS. Of these three (Guildford, Oxford and Cambridge) will be used for cancer care for both private and NHS patients, with the other 27 focusing on Covid-19 care and providing additional support to the NHS. Elective operations have been cancelled, with a spokesman for Nuffield Health confirming it was contacting patients to reschedule their appointments.
In light of these changes, medical insurers are exploring how this will affect members. Dr Keith Klintworth, managing director of VitalityHealth said: “In common with all insurers, we’re regularly speaking with the private sector to understand how this is impacting them, how capacity might change and what it will mean for our members. Currently a range of hospital services remain open to our members and we are expanding our primary care services, which will continue to be offered digitally.”
Insurers are also looking at how policies should respond as cover becomes more restricted. Stuart Scullion, executive chairman of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries, said: “Insurers are looking at a number of options from payment holidays to enhanced NHS cash benefits for those who contract Covid-19. Insurers must be adaptable and flexible in supporting clients.”
He also stressed that the value of cover extends beyond treatment. “Digital GP services, employee assistance programmes and online and telephone-based mental health support can be invaluable to employees at this difficult time,” he added.
Announcements from all the medical insurers are expected later this week and Corporate Adviser will keep you posted on how these will affect you and your clients.