A third of the UK population would consider going abroad for NHS treatment, says new research from Which?
You may have read press reports that highlight that 2 out of 3 would prefer not to go abroad. Consider this, the UK population is 61 million. This includes over 24 million adults age 16 to 64 who are working. One third of 24 is 8. 8 million people is the size of the audience of a very popular weekend prime-time main channel television programme. At present between 100,000 and 150,000 people pay out of their own pocket to go abroad for surgery, cosmetic surgery and dentistry. The rules are really only aimed at surgery, and even though people know they will have to pay travel and accommodation and ancillary expenses, one in three is in favour. There is a huge gap between considering and actually going ahead, but even so it is something that insurers ignore at their peril.
Apart from a small handful of policies, the vast majority of private medical policies specifically exclude non-emergency treatment outside the UK.
Health cash and dental providers, apart from a couple of insurers, do not seek to offer cover for treatment outside the UK. Health cash insurers often stress that they support the NHS and that their policies aim to help people when being treated by the NHS. So when, as is almost certain after this week’s vote in Europe, NHS patients get the freedom to go for overseas treatment, health cash insurers will have to consider whether they go with the flow, or take a ‘little Englander’ mentality and refuse to cover anything connected with overseas treatment.