National Friendly has launched its new Out Patient Optimum private medical insurance plan, describing it as a potential solution to UK GP waiting times.
The private medical insurance (PMI) plan includes a range of benefits, with one highlight being the ability to see one of a network of private GPs across the UK. The plan’s main benefits include covering:
Unlimited appointment(s) with a private GP if that appointment leads to a referral to a specialist.
One private GP consultation a year that does not lead to a referral to a specialist.
Diagnostic consultations with a specialist consultant.
Diagnostic tests to help find the cause of symptoms (excluding arthroscopies).
Physiotherapy, acupuncture, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment.
Minor surgery for three situations: carpal tunnel decompression, joint injections and excision and cauterisation procedures.
One initial mental health psychiatric assessment each year plus up to ten face-to-face sessions with a counsellor or psychotherapist.
Diagnosis of heart and cancer conditions. This covers heart angiograms, biopsies, blood tests and ECGs, and cancer biopsies, blood tests, scans and x-rays.
The maximum benefit is £2,000 a year. Three excess levels are available: nil, £100 and £250 a year.
There are 33 exclusions listed, mainly being typical of PMI type policies and they include A&E and pre-existing medical conditions but also treatment on a cruise ship. Also excluded are tests and consultations at ten London private hospitals. The exclusions are listed in the 12 page policy document.
The policy lasts for five years and is annually renewed and reviewed. After five years, National Friendly contacts the customer to advise them what renewal options, if any, are available. Premiums are age based and subject to IPT. Three underwriting options are available: a 5/2/2 rolling moratorium, full medical underwriting or continued personal medical exclusions for switches.
Age range at outset is 18-75 and customers must be UK resident.
Comment: National Friendly’s recent products have been based often on quite complex structures but this one is more straightforward. Unusually it is based around a five year structure though and this gives the insurer the option not to continue cover beyond then. However, if claims are broadly in line with expectations and sales are good, that risk should be minimised but it does mean customers could see their cover no longer available in future. That means we have to reflect that in the product’s score which is a pity, as the plan includes some interesting elements.
Not least is the focus on private GP services. It can take many days to see an NHS GP currently, so being able to bypass that will appeal to many people – especially if the plan is competitively priced. We have not seen pricing but would it expect it to undercut conventional PMI, including budget plans.
Yes, benefits are limited, but there could well be a market for this product for those who want some private healthcare but also want to pay as little as possible.
Plus points: A cross between budget PMI and a health cash plan in some ways; Covers private GP services; Select range of useful benefits; Low cost compared to full PMI; Focus on avoiding waiting.
Not so plus points: Limited benefits; Max benefits £2K a year; Five year term that may not be extended; Some benefit limits.
Rating (max 10): Innovation: 8.5. Overall: 7.5. Silver
Tags: PMI; National Friendly