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One in four private patients self-fund their treatment

Growth in self-funding is across all healthcare specialties

One in four private patients are now self-funding their treatment rather than using private medical insurance (PMI), an analysis shows.

LaingBuisson’s Private Healthcare Self-Pay UK Market Report reveals the UK’s self-funded private healthcare market has more than doubled over the last five years from £527m to £1.1bn.

It said this has been driven by NHS waiting lists, demand management by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and a more consumer-focused private healthcare sector.

The report shows that in 2018, 21% of independent acute medical hospital revenue was derived from self-paying patients residing in the UK, equivalent to a market of £1,105m. Over the five-year period between 2014 and 2018, revenue from self-pay grew at an average of 7.4% per annum in real terms.
The growth in patients choosing to self-fund private hospital treatment is evidenced across all specialties and is strong in orthopaedics, ophthalmology, gastroenterology, gynaecology and urology.

Restrictions on access to NHS funding for cancer drugs is also fuelling growth in self-pay oncology, and there is growth in demand for diagnostic services such as MRI scans, CT scans and endoscopy.

The report also reveals prices for private treatment vary widely across the country. A knee replacement, for instance, varies from £8,110 to £15,160 and a hip replacement varies from £8,110 to £15,050.
Demand is greatest among the over 60s who have greater disposable income, may have chosen to abandon their PMI and are willing to pay privately for procedures rather than wait for NHS treatment, the report added.

Report author Liz Heath said there is a greater focus on consumer needs within the UK self-pay market, whether this is at an entry level for private and online GP services and diagnostics or promoting the affordability of elective procedures such as cataract surgery. “However, the sector must progress if it wants to deliver a better customer experience and a truly consumer centric offer for the self-pay patient in what is the only area of growth in the private acute healthcare market,” she stated.