How is coronavirus impacting your private health insurance?
We will be updating this page to bring you the latest news and updates from the UK’s health insurance providers, on their measures for dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
The private healthcare sector has reached an agreement with the NHS to make almost its entire capacity available to the NHS to support in the fight against Covid-19 Coronavirus. This is likely to impact, in the short term, the speed and access to treatment private medical insurance provides.
We are urging our clients to not panic and cancel their cover, especially for those who it is paramount retain their underwriting terms for when things get back to normal. We would like to stress that private medical insurance is not like a TV subscription that can be cancelled and recommenced. You need to be sensible about protecting your underwriting to ensure you do not find yourself with a new Moratorium or exclusions applied.
Below we will be updating the latest responses from each of the health insurers.
For the moment, the advice for members who have treatment booked in the next 2 to 4 weeks is to contact the hospital where their treatment is booked, whilst we engage with the hospitals to establish the specifics of how they propose to phase in this change.
All our members throughout the UK will continue to be able to access the majority of other services that are available through their AXA PPP healthcare plan. Depending on their plan, this could include:
• Consultations with specialists and practitioners over the phone and online (where clinically appropriate)
• Cancer treatment at home (where appropriate)
• Phone and online assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions
• Access to our 24/7 Health at Hand helpline staffed by nurses, midwives, pharmacists
• Mental health support services, including access to counsellors and, for our Personal and SME healthcare customers, three months’ complimentary access to Thrive – an app with tools to support mental wellbeing
We are also working with key partners to increase the number of virtual services we can offer.
For more information on visit https://www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/update-on-coronavirus/
We’re conscious that many people are now needing to stay at home or are understandably reluctant to go out to access healthcare. To help address this, we have a range of resources and channels open should our customers need support and guidance to help them stay in control of their health and wellbeing from their home.
- Remote consultations: We will fund telephone and video consultations with all Bupa recognised consultants, where they are medically appropriate and the technology is available, to help patients avoid exposure to the virus. This service includes remote consultations with an accredited physiotherapist for muscle, bone and joint conditions.
- See a GP from home: The majority of our customers have fast access to expert advice through our digital GP services in partnership with Babylon and we are extending this rapidly to all our customer base so everyone can use this service. Customers can also use the AI-driven symptom checker feature to check for symptoms for a full range of conditions – this has been updated to include COVID-19.
- Talk to a nurse 24/7 for general health and wellbeing advice: our customers can call our Anytime HealthLine.
- Support for family emotional wellbeing: parents and carers can call our Family Mental HealthLine where we have trained advisers and mental health nurses available to provide support.
- Extension of referrals: we’ve also extended the time that a GP and consultant referral is valid for ongoing treatment up to three months.
Mental health support
We know this will be a stressful time for people and that isolation may impact on overall mental wellbeing, as well as exacerbating underlying mental health conditions. We are expanding our capacity for mental health support – including remote consultations and on-line Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Customers can also access Bupa’s Direct Access service, removing the need for a GP appointment. Our Family Mental Healthline is open for parents and carers to talk to us about their child’s emotional wellbeing. The online Bupa Mental Health resource hub has a wide range of support materials and is being regularly updated with relevant content.
For more information visit https://www.bupa.com/newsroom/our-views/bupa-uk-covid-19-update
The government has announced that the NHS will cancel all elective and non-emergency procedures in NHS hospitals. Any procedures or consultations for conditions which are not life-threatening, or time-critical, will be cancelled.
The government has also recently announced an agreement between the NHS and private facilities which will see them reallocate much of their national capacity to support the NHS and help to meet the unprecedented demand for clinical care anticipated over the coming weeks and months.
We understand that you’ll be concerned about how this might affect your health insurance policy, so we’ve prepared these questions and answers to provide clarification.
In addition to the continuation of urgent care pathways as outlined above, you’ll be able to access the majority of other services and benefits (subject to your particular policy coverage).
These services include:
- Physiotherapy through Back2Better- our supplier is operational, and they are setting up additional virtual consultation capability
- Mental health support through Mental Health Pathway and outpatient mental health treatment – our supplier is operational, and they are setting up additional virtual consultation capability
- Aviva Digital GP
- Stress Counselling Helpline
- Dental & Optical
- GP minor surgery
- Baby bonus
What cover is available for testing, screening or treatment for COVID-19?
Given COVID-19 is a public health emergency, it’s appropriate that diagnostics and treatment of COVID-19 are conducted by or at the direction of the NHS.
Testing and screening are therefore not covered under your health insurance policy, and any treatment would only be covered to the extent it’s eligible treatment provided to you as a private patient in a private facility.
In the current circumstances, it’s unlikely that this would be the case and COVID-19 patients would be treated under NHS care, whether at NHS or private facilities.
What if COVID-19 exacerbates an underlying condition?
This is a novel virus, but with each passing day, we’re learning more about its potential impact on individuals.
Care for anyone who has underlying conditions which are exacerbated by COVID-19 will be managed in line with policy terms and conditions in the usual way, including subject to the satisfaction of applicable policy underwriting.
I know that the NHS’s decision to cancel elective, non-emergency and non-time-critical procedures in private hospitals will affect my access to some of the benefits I’m covered for. What can I still claim for?
The terms and conditions of our policies haven’t changed, so your cover will still apply – although under the present circumstances it’ll be harder to get access to certain care.
Would my policy cover me for any treatment abroad?
The terms and conditions of your policy haven’t changed so if you have access to emergency overseas cover, this will remain in place, although under the present circumstances it’ll be harder to get access to certain care.
For more information and FAQ’s visit https://www.aviva.co.uk/health/health-products/health-insurance/coronavirus-advice-health-insurance/
As a result of the changing environment, we have responded in a number of ways. We have fast tracked our Care Hub, a digital platform where members can access their plan details and treatment history, and book the treatment they need. The Hub will make it even easier for members to access the support available to them at this time.
Over and above our current benefits we have introduced a COVID-19 Cashback. The initial feedback on this new benefit has been exceptionally well received, and we are already seeing the first claims coming through. Our first claimant has been safely discharged after four days in hospital, receiving £1000 through the benefit.
Similarly, we recognise the need to support our members’ to stay healthy through the Vitality Programme. I’m pleased to announce the launch of Vitality at Home, which will provide additional ways for all our members to keep active and earn points at this exceptional time. Through Vitality at Home, members will have free access to home workouts through Peloton and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill’s app ‘Jennis’. Vitality points will be automatically awarded to members who undertake a workout. We’re also introducing a new and highly relevant Active Reward that gives members up to two movies on demand each week for staying active, through Rakuten TV.
In recognition of how important it is to eat healthily at the moment, we have also made our current healthy food benefit with Waitrose even more attractive with 25% off their Good Health range for a members spend in April, May and June, irrespective of how many points they’ve earned over this period.
These new enhancements sit alongside our mental health support, including talking therapies, which can be accessed remotely without referral, online access to Big White Wall and our Healthy Mind Vitality partners, all of which offer particularly relevant support in the current environment.
Are coronavirus tests available through Private Medical Insurance?
Testing for coronavirus is not currently available through Vitality.
Can I use my health insurance plan for treatment if I get coronavirus?
If you need to speak to someone in connection with coronavirus, you should follow the latest government advice which can be found on the NHS website. Please note that health insurance in the UK does not cover urgent or emergency care.
From 20 March 2020, a new COVID-19 Cashback benefit will be available for Vitality health insurance members who require a hospital stay due to Coronavirus. All Vitality health insurance members hospitalised due to COVID-19, will now be eligible to claim following an NHS hospital stay:
- Days 1 to 8 – £250 per day.
- Day 9 onwards – £500 per day. A person with a stay lasting 9 days or longer is more likely to need critical care for COVID-19, based on the latest evidence and research.
- This is subject to a maximum of £5,000 overall.
This benefit is now available to all current members who have a Personal Healthcare (PHC), Business Healthcare (BHC) or Corporate Healthcare (CHC) plan with the benefit of Core Cover, for any admissions up to 30 June 2020. It is also available to new customers subject to a one-month waiting period.
If I go on to develop a secondary problem related to coronavirus, would this be covered?
You will be covered for all eligible treatment needed in the future, in line with the terms and conditions of your plan.
Is physiotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) still available to me?
We are working with our provider partners to continue to deliver treatment to you during this period of disruption.
For more information visit https://www.vitality.co.uk/coronavirus-faqs/
Exclusion for income protection policies underwritten from 18th March 2020
In addition to our stance on self-isolation (please see details below), from Wednesday 18th March we are adding an exclusion to all new policies with a Day-1 or 1-week waiting period. This also applies to previously submitted applications that were not underwritten before 18th March. The exclusion will state:
In the first 12 months after policy start date, any claims due to, or arising from symptoms of respiratory illnesses which includes colds, coughs, influenza-like illnesses, coronavirus infections and upper respiratory tract infections, with or without fever [will be excluded].
Self-Iolation – income protection applications submitted after 12:00pm 16th March 2020
For new applications submitted on or after 16th March 2020, any claims for self-isolation (including medically advised self-isolation), will not be considered.
We are constantly reviewing the government advice and we have a Business Continuity Plan in place, which includes additional home working provision, to allow us to ensure both members and advisers continue to receive the high level of service they have come to expect from The Exeter.
As always, our employees are also a key priority, firstly to protect their health and safety and secondly so that they in turn can provide an ongoing service to our members, advisers and business partners. We are currently restricting all business travel as well as visitors to our office, but otherwise continue business via phone and web conferencing.
For more information visit https://www.the-exeter.com/news/coronavirus-covid-19/
Many of you will have read the news that from 30 March 2020 private hospitals will, for an initial period of 14 weeks, allocate practically all of their capacity to the NHS to support and care for Covid-19 patients. This is a critical step to preserve lives throughout the UK. We are fully supportive of all that is being done to bring this crisis to an end and extremely grateful to the dedicated doctors and nurses.
We are working with healthcare providers and hospitals to understand what private treatment will be available but, at present, this is not clear. It will be dependent upon the number and severity of the Covid-19 and critical care patients. Where customers have treatment in progress, we are working with them and their specialists to ensure this continues.
To protect our people we have closed our head office and are no longer receiving post. With our teams working remotely, the business remains open for customers to call or contact us by email, the website, live chat or the WPA Health app.
Over the coming weeks we expect that cancer and other critical treatments will continue, whereas outpatient consultations, diagnostic tests and other services will vary based on the specific location and doctors available.
Remote GP services, mental health support and NHS cash benefit will be used more often.
Please be assured that we continue to pay claims as usual. However we foresee that, over the coming weeks, our policies will not be used as frequently as they usually are.
During this period of national emergency, we wholeheartedly commit to returning any profits to our customers and will
use funds from our financial reserves to keep our people employed serving our customers. We do not yet know how
or to what extent any premium rebate will look like; it may be several weeks before we are able to communicate the outcome, but we will ensure this happens as soon as is practicable.
For more information and FAQ’s visit https://www.wpa.org.uk/corona-virus-faq-250320.pdf
We are in regular contact with our clients to reassure them of our support and are here for them.
We are also making available to all our clients a wide range of financial and cover options to help them through this difficult period especially if they are experiencing financial difficulties. There is no “one size fits all” and our Team is ready to talk to you and our clients and will tailor support to help them through this wherever we can.
In addition, to support all of our clients during this difficult time we are introducing some important changes and new services with immediate effect. These include expanding our essential helpline services, our 24/7 GP advice line is now available across all of our product ranges and so to all members, whilst our Employee Assistance Programme has been added to all our corporate, business and sports club clients schemes to support them and their staff during this unprecedented period.
Finally, we are receiving daily updates from Private Hospitals throughout the UK as to how they are dealing with the pandemic and it shows a trend towards a situation where many beds in private hospitals are being allocated for NHS use, therefore a full range of services from some private hospitals may not be available for the time being or may be delayed. This of course only affects one part of the service and cover we offer our clients, so please be reassured that all services offered on our PMI policies are still available but perhaps with some minor delays on certain types of claims.
For more information visit https://www.generalandmedical.com/live-healthy/posts/2020/march/coronavirus-what-do-you-know/