Health Insurance: 321 Million Pounds Pocketed by Providers During Covid-19 Lockdown

£321,641,653

…is the estimated amount of savings on payouts realized by the UK health insurance companies during Covid-19 lockdown, as the UK citizens mostly postponed their medical appointments to avoid exposure to the virus.

With the fight against Covid-19 and lockdown put in place, British citizens mostly postponed their medical appointments and health expenses to a later date. Their goal : avoid exposure to the virus and release the pressure on hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. Health medical insurers were therefore much less solicited during that period. Yet, premiums were not reduced. 

75% decline in private health insurance payouts

Comparison between health insurance payouts during lockdown and the 2019 equivalent period

Since the 23th of March and the establishment of lockdown measures in the UK, the British citizens’ care habits have completely changed. While medical appointments felt by 35% for general practitioners and 71,1% for specialists, optical and dental cares plummeted by almost 96,4% during the whole period. 

Fewer consultations meant fewer health care reimbursements, which decreased by 75% over the whole lockdown period. This fall in health insurers payouts has even reached 84% during the week starting on the 13th of April (compared to the same week in 2019). As a result, the savings of private health insurers during lockdown are estimated a £321,6 millions sum over the period from 23rd March to 1st June. 

71,1%
drop in health specialist appointments

…during the lockdown period compared with the same 2019 period

96,4%
decrease in optical and dental care

…during the lockdown period compared with the same 2019 period

35%
overall reduction in medical appointments

…observed over the 77 days lockdown compared to 2019 same period

Will the health insurers give the money back ?

Insurance companies are now under pressure regarding their premiums from April and May, since only a minority of customers was able to access private healthcare services during that period. Indeed, given the context, the Financial Conduct Authority requires firms to consider ways of supporting customers who may be experiencing financial difficulties. 

WPA Healthcare was the first to implement a 40% refund scheme for its policyholders. Bupa also committed to “pass back any exceptional financial benefit”. Aviva, on the other hand, expects the payments to be “delayed rather than cancelled” and even claim costs to be “subsequently higher”. Other companies are planning on reviewing the issue next year, when the potential rise or decrease in yearly payouts arising as a result of COVID-19 will be clearer.

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Antoine Fruchard, insurance expert and CEO at Hello-Safe.co.uk

The lockdown had many consequences on the British citizens’ healthcare routine. With the virus circulating outside, many preferred to postpone their pending medical needs in order to avoid being exposed to contagion. Besides, others felt the need not to overload the UK medical system in a moment when the private and public healthcare capacities were at a critical point. That has logically led to a major fall in payouts to be realized by health insurers to their policyholders. However, few insurance companies had the initiative to reimburse – totally or partially – these huge amounts of money pocketed during the lockdown. It will be interesting to see if that questionable position evolves from now to the end of year 2020”.

Our methodology

We based our study on public information provided by reliable data-providers – such as the Office for National Statistics and Laing&Buisson – as well as international insurance partners – within which AXA, Allianz, Covea, Swiss Life, Aviva and Bupa – who provided us with anonymous claims information for the period from the 23rd of March to the 1st of June. For further information on our editorial guidelines please click here.

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