The government's recent decision to allow patients to top up their NHS care with private treatment has been warmly welcomed by health insurers.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced earlier in the month that patients who paid for drugs not available to them on the NHS would no longer lose their right to NHS care.
Before the ruling, thousands of NHS patients were denied access to life-prolonging drugs that were deemed too expensive by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the government's health regulator.
Their only alternative was to go private, either by using their savings to pay for the drugs or by taking out a comprehensive health insurance policy. If they did so however, their NHS care would be withdrawn. Now, the government ruling means they can pay for part of their treatment (the drugs they need but that are not available to them on the NHS) as long as it is ‘separate’ from their NHS care.
The decision to give the go-ahead to top-up care will mean that more insurers will join WPA in offering a top-up insurance. WPA’s policy provides access to drugs such as Avastin, Tarceva and Stutent for an annual premium based on age. Insurers who have already expressed interest in developing top-up policies include Standard Life, AXA PPP healthcare and Bupa.