The independent sector hospital and private medical insurance (PMI) insurance industries have both been praised for their response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
At this year’s AGM for the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII), the trade body’s chairman, Stuart Scullion, said the PMI industry has “stood up manfully” to challenges posed by the pandemic.
He also praised independent hospital providers, after passing almost entire capacity to the NHS “virtually overnight” in an historic deal in March.
Scullion directed the comments to trade body members during the AMII’s first virtual AGM in its 22-year history.
He suggested that insurers and cash plan providers had acted quickly and efficiently, “standing up to the task” of enhancing benefits, ensuring products continue to deliver value, and introducing a range of financial support measures to help those consumers and businesses who are struggling financially.
PMI insurers and cash plans providers have told Health Insurance & Protection – some more readily than others – about their plans to offer either premium rebates, payment holidays or other measures to ensure that they do not profit unduly from the crisis and customers do not lose out either in terms of premiums paid or due to changes to underwriting.
He said: “I believe our insurers and cash plan providers have stood up manfully to the tasks and challenges posed by the current circumstances we find ourselves in.
“They have continued to ensure that products deliver value and have supported those businesses and consumers who need them most.”
The AMII chairman also paid tribute to NHS and other care sector frontline workers during the event, which was attended by delegates from AMII member firms.
Scullion also continued his call for Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) to be zero-rated in line with other long-term products as a means of reducing the strain on an ‘already over-stretched’ NHS. This follows an announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, of a further review into IPT.
Scullion said: “With the NHS taking the frontline strain of the coronavirus, it has fallen to independent private hospitals to step in and support routine and ongoing NHS treatments. That situation cannot prevail indefinitely.
“At some stage the Government is going to have to increase tax revenues in order to rebuild our economy. Timing will be crucial, and I expect tax increases to be phased to ensure the recovery does not stall.
“As has been evidenced by recent events, a strong private health sector delivers invaluable benefits, and reduces the strain on an already over-stretched NHS.”
During the virtual AGM meeting it was announced that the Terms of Office for Mr Scullion, along with four members of AMII’s Executive Committee, will be extended by a further year.
The virtual AGM also included details of a range of AMII initiatives designed to support member firms, including an industry-wide scheme for the digital transfer of personal data and underwriting directly between insurers.
The initiative, which includes both AMII and non-AMII members and already has the backing of 80% of the association’s insurer partners, is expected to be formally announced later this year.
Scullion closed the AGM by saying: “Collectively and individually we in the private medical sector make a huge contribution to the health and wellbeing of the nation – of businesses, of employees and of individual consumers.
“I don’t believe any of us are going to let a Coronavirus get in the way of that.”