UK Medical Insurance costs rise at fastest rate in Europe

But according to the ‘2017 Willis Towers Watson Global Medical Trends Survey’, the country appears to have got off fairly lightly compared with elsewhere in the world.

Although the cost of UK medical insurance is expected to rise at above average levels when compared with the rest of Europe this year, fees still remain low by global standards, according to recent research.

A study of medical insurers conducted by risk management and insurance brokerage firm Willis Towers Watson revealed that increases in medical insurance costs in the UK are predicted to hit 5% for the third year running. A doubling of the Insurance Premium Tax from 6% to 12% over the last two years is said to have been one of the key contributing factors to the price hike.

As a result, providers are now trying to keep costs down by developing “softer” condition-specific self-referral pathways to make it quicker for customers to access services and provide them with more effective interventions.

But compared with elsewhere in the world, the UK appears to have got off fairly lightly. The ‘2017 Willis Towers Watson Global Medical Trends Survey’ indicated that the cost of health care benefits is forecast to jump by 7.8% globally, up from 7.3% in 2016.

The key drivers for this jump were said to be the rising cost of medical technology (63%), employees seeking inappropriate care (54%) and medical practitioners overprescribing services (74%).

As a result, the study also found that insurers were now offering more preventative care and encouraging employees to take responsibility for their own health. At a global level, two out of five respondents said they offered wellbeing programmes, while two out of three provided personal health risk assessments and another 16% said they planned to do so next year.

In terms of regional breakdown, Latin America was projected to see the largest medical insurance cost increases at 11.5%, driven by very high inflation rates in some countries. The Middle East and Africa came next at 9.8%, followed by North America and Asia Pacific on 8.6% each. The region predicted to experience the lowest price hikes was Europe at 4.5%.