The UK’s NHS is in crisis due to a backlog from the COVID-19 pandemic, underfunding, staff shortages, and strikes during the end of 2022 and start of 2023. This is likely to lead to increased uptake of private medical insurance, as concerns regarding the NHS is the leading trigger for consumers to purchase a policy according to GlobalData findings.

GlobalData’s 2022 UK Insurance Consumer Survey found that ‘concern about NHS waiting times/service’ was the leading trigger for purchasing a private medical insurance policy that year, as cited by 27.3% of respondents. It had a substantial lead over the next most influential factors, which were ‘concern about my health’ and ‘reached a certain age’ (both 9.3%).

Waiting lists are significant across a range of key areas, with the British Medical Association estimating that a record-high 7.2 million people were awaiting treatment as of October 2022. This has been a consistent topic in the news and is therefore likely to persuade some people to take out private medical insurance.

GlobalData’s surveys highlight that the proportion of respondents selecting ‘concern over the NHS’ as their leading trigger increased from 20.4% in 2020 and 24.8% in 2021. This indicates that pressure from COVID-19 has had a significant impact on both the NHS and consumers’ concerns regarding the service.

Any expected growth in private medical insurance may be offset by the cost-of-living crisis. Record inflation and energy prices in particular have led to a vast decrease in disposable income, prompting consumers to look at where they can save money. As a result, taking on new expenses will be a struggle for many at this time. However, the NHS backlog is showing no sign of shortening, so consumers will increasingly be looking towards the insurance industry to help them receive healthcare.