Private Medical Insurance: Creating Choice & Reducing The NHS Burden

Higher earners should pay for private healthcare to alleviate pressure on the NHS, leading eye surgeon says…

Individuals who earn above a certain amount should pay for private healthcare to help relieve pressure from the NHS, a leading eye surgeon has said.

According to Dr Allon Barsam, co-owner of Ophthalmic Consultants of London in the Harley Street area, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NHS could be eased with greater private funding, helping the industry as a whole recover from the crisis.

Dr Barsam said the NHS is still working at just 50% capacity and that more people should pay for private services to free up availability.

“The government should insist that more people have private medical insurance to reduce the burden on the NHS and provide stimulus in the private healthcare sector. At the moment only 10% of Britons have private medical insurance and we should aim for 20%. The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the problems in the NHS.”

Possible tax breaks for individuals

In addition to hospitals being stretched by the pandemic, all non-essential surgery was halted during the coronavirus lockdown. Now that they have reopened, many medical facilities are struggling to cope with a backlog of patients.

Dr Barsam, whose clients include Premier League footballers, highlighted the policy in the United States which sees workers getting tax breaks on money they spend on healthcare. He believes a similar system could be adopted in the UK.

“We should consider financial incentives to encourage more people to spend money on healthcare,” he said. “In the UK we treat the NHS like it’s a sacred cow, when in fact it is an inferior service.”

Limited support for private practises

Most private healthcare surgeries say they haven’t received much support from the government during the coronavirus lockdown, with many not eligible for grants, rent reductions or business rates holidays.

Dr Barsam’s own clinic, which specialises in treatments ranging from laser eye surgery and cataract surgery to lens replacement surgery, furloughed three-quarters of its 30 staff during lockdown. It also boosted its financial security to help it survive the crisis by taking out a loan under the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

The NHS Confederation recently warned that the number of people on NHS waiting lists could hit 10 million in England this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s more than double the number that were waiting in June.

In conclusion

This is a very interesting perspective from a practising Consultant and whilst I do not share all his views, there really should be greater incentive for Britons to look at Private Medical Insurance both in terms of reducing the burden on the NHS and to create freedom of choice as to where you are treated, who you are treated by and, very importantly, when you are treated.

Private Medical Insurance has long been seen as a luxury item but now, more than ever, it is seen as an essential insurance. One that is widely hoped for by many employees in their wish list of benefits.

Let me tell you how we can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not this is the right option for you.