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Insurance has no part to play in providing for the nation's health - debate!

If that isn’t a provocative statement, I don’t know what is. It is the elephant in the room and why we are holding this debate at our Annual Conference on 25 February.

The National Health Service is widely regarded as a national treasure - but is it really future proof? We all know there are many flaws to the current system, such as staffing issues, overcrowding, and so on. In addition, the Health Foundation has found that health spending pressures are rising in part due to our ageing population. As a result, there are knock on pressures on adult social care – yet, while the health budget grew over the decade, adult social care spending fell. So, does this necessarily mean there is an increasing role for private companies to play? This raises the question of whether it is right for those who can afford to seek out private treatment, often through insurance companies, which is usually quicker and debatably of a higher standard, without actually fixing the underlying issues in the current system? Could even the most hardcore free-marketeer wish that our healthcare system, in the future, mirrors the American system, where people without health insurance, or without adequate health insurance, are forced to postpone or even forgo medical treatments due to astronomical costs? The beauty of the NHS is that it is a system which offers free healthcare to all at point of use. Surely this principle should be protected at all costs while addressing the structural issues and making the service fit-for-purpose?

The flip side to this argument is that private health and protection insurance could offer welcome relief to the already overstretched NHS. The Government’s Prevention Green Paper is littered with statements that people will not be ‘passive recipients of care’ and that they will be ‘co-creators of their own health’ and view their health as an asset rather than relying on the NHS. The old adage that prevention is better than cure is certainly supported by this Green Paper and by insurance companies. Insurance and protection products are increasingly providing additional services aimed at prevention and rehab that can encourage a healthy lifestyle and should, in theory, alleviate some pressure from the NHS. However, can the most prevalent issues in our society (obesity, mental health, and ageing) really be helped by these services?

When talking about the nation’s health, there is also the question of what contributes to our health? Certainly mental health is now being properly considered alongside physical health but what is the role of financial resilience in supporting your health?

No one can deny that there are issues with the current healthcare system in the United Kingdom, but is genuine reform to the NHS in this fragile political climate likely? In contrast, there only seems to be an increase in pledges thrown around about extra funding for the NHS. We want to ask whether this actually helps the problem, and what role could insurers play in helping to solve these issues? Our breakout session aims to unpick some of these arguments in an interactive debate.

Last updated 21/02/2020