Britain’s health insurers, intermediaries and customers all have an important role to play during the current COVID-19 crisis, a senior figure in the health insurance industry has said.
Stuart Scullion, executive chairman of the Association of Medical Insurers & Intermediaries (AMII), said that all parts of the industry should come together, just as the public and private healthcare sectors are pulling together, to help the country to withstand the health and economic shocks brought about by COVID-19.
The head of the industry trade body said that insurers are looking at a number of options, from payment holidays to enhanced NHS cash benefits, to help those who may be unfortunate enough to contract coronavirus.
By working together, insurers, intermediaries and their customers can ensure that the product continues to deliver value, Scullion said.
Scullion cited the historic announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that the private healthcare sector has reached agreement with the NHS to make almost its entire capacity available to the NHS to support the fight against COVID-19.
AMII EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
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He said: “These are unprecedented times across the health sector and this announcement is evidence of the continuing collaboration between the public and private sectors.”
Scullion said the additional resources being provided by the independent healthcare sector will be used to enable the NHS to continue to carry out other urgent operations and cancer treatments, as well as treat patients with COVID-19.
He said: “Not only are the private hospital groups providing staff and facilities, but they are doing it at cost and we are asking all insurers and intermediary firms to come together, irrespective of whether they are AMII members or not, to fight COVID-19 as one.”
Scullion said that AMII is following the daily briefings from the Prime Minister and guidance from NHS England to help members prepare for each next stage.
He stressed that insurers must be adaptable and flexible in supporting clients to maintain the vital cover provided by all insurances, especially private medical insurance and health cash plans.
He said: “Unemployment, reduced hours and financial worries mean there is a key role for our members to play in support of clients.
“It would be easy to say, ‘Why should I keep my cover when I may be unable to access private hospital facilities?’ but private medical insurance [PMI] and health cash plans provide much more than hospital treatment.”
Scullion said that digital GP services, employee assistance programmes and digital and telephone-based mental health support can be invaluable to customers and continue to deliver “real value”.
But Scullion said it was also important that customers remain aware of the need to protect their underwriting status.
He said: “PMI is not like a TV subscription service that you can cancel and recommence when you are ready.
“Consumers need to protect their underwriting status and cover to ensure they do not find themselves with a new moratorium or exclusions applied.”
Scullion said that intermediaries have a responsibility to ensure they convey this message clearly.
He said: “We would encourage anyone who is thinking of cancelling their cover to speak with their intermediary or insurer before doing so.”