Aviva Identifies Opportunities to Expand Health Insurance Amid NHS Crisis
In response to the escalating strain on the UK's National Health Service (NHS), Aviva, the largest insurer in the country, is recognizing substantial growth prospects within the private health insurance sector. With NHS waiting lists reaching record highs, Aviva has gained 170,000 health insurance customers in the past year, both through direct sign-ups and via employer schemes. This boost has positioned Aviva as the third-largest player in the UK health insurance market, trailing behind Bupa and Axa.
Amanda Blanc, Aviva's CEO, highlighted the escalating demand for digital healthcare solutions like virtual GP consultations, which provide patients access to NHS-qualified primary care doctors via video and text. The company's health insurance premium sales surged by 58% to £86 million during the first half of the year, driven by individual customers and corporate clients seeking to provide private medical coverage for employees.
Blanc noted the concerns of customers who fear potential delays in accessing healthcare treatments and emphasised the significance of addressing these worries. The increasing demand for private health insurance aligns with the reality of a strained NHS, where a record 7.6 million individuals in England were waiting for routine treatment as of June.
Aviva's partnerships with platforms like Scan.com for diagnostic imaging and HealthKey for digital health services further bolster their offerings. The company's medical plans for companies include credits that can be utilised for services like scans, mental health support, and nutrition guidance.
While Aviva's expansion strategy garners attention, it also raises concerns. Unions and critics argue that private insurers capitalising on the NHS crisis could detract from the need for greater government investment in public healthcare. However, the Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, has advocated for involving private and third-sector providers to alleviate pressure on the NHS and reduce waiting lists.
The discussion surrounding private healthcare's role in the UK's healthcare landscape comes amid broader debates about how to address the mounting challenges faced by the NHS. Aviva's push into health insurance is a reflection of the intricate interplay between public and private sectors in healthcare provision.