Continuing mayhem in the NHS and high medical insurance premiums have given birth to a new breed of private patient agency.
The Good Doctor agency in Brighton aims to point self-pay patients to the hospital where they will get the best price and best treatment. It will also negotiate an all-in-fee.
Michael Miller, director of the Brighton-based agency, hopes to fund the operation through financial service providers. He believes that rather than giving non-refundable premiums to medical insurers, people should be saving regularly with a financial service provider / insurance company.
These funds would be used as and when treatment was needed.
PMI take up had reached saturation, premiums were going on up and people – especially the better off – should be looking to self-fund treatment, he said.
He added: “We want to get financial service providers and IFAs to get their customers to think twice before buying PMI. For many, a health saving plan is a much better option.”
Patients seeking the help of the agency and not qualifying for free advice will be charged about £100, Miller added.
The agency is expected to become fully operational next month. It is part of the Alliance Unichem group. Among those who think the new concept could succeed is John Castagno, director of healthcare and general insurance at Legal & General.
He commented: “With the increase in self-pay there has to be an opportunity for an agency to advise which is the best group to go to and which is the best hospital within that group.”
More than 100,000 people a year pay for their own surgery at an average cost of around £3,700.