Uncertainties and possibilities
We enter 2020 with mixed feelings. Brexit uncertainty of course overshadows most things. The only certainty on that score is that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ‘get Brexit done’. What that looks like – and what after-effects will be felt – remain to be seen.
The same goes for the election promises surrounding the NHS. The Queen’s speech confirmed the PM’s £34 billion NHS spending pledge, along with the promise to enshrine the multi-year funding settlement in law. The Queen’s speech also reiterated other commitments on health made during the general election campaign: 50 million more GP appointments a year, the recruitment of 50,000 more nurses and the vow to build 40 new hospitals.
Without a radical change to the current NHS infrastructure, its widely predicted that the extra cash will make little difference. However, it wasn’t that long ago that Johnson advocated an insurance-based healthcare system for non-essential treatments and pushed for patients for have more private care outside the NHS. Is this still his thinking? We’ll be watching this space.
A spot poll of Health Insurance & Protection readers in December (see pages 8 – 10) also revealed mixed feelings. It found that respondents were more confident about the health insurance and protection market (59% overall) than they are about the UK economy (41% overall). However, when compared against the responses to these same questions in June 2019, the percentage reporting a lack of confidence on both aspects is considerably higher now than it was then.
On a brighter note, readers consider virtual GP services the biggest market development by far in 2019, along with access to insurance improvements. When asked what they’d like to see more of from providers, the publishing of real-life customer stories and more human-centric client communications stood head and shoulders above everything else. The need for providers to exhibit more of a human touch also represents the focus of our broker opinion on page 11.
This yearbook also includes a useful overview of what to watch out for in 2020, such as the ABI’s mental health guidelines, the introduction of sick pay statements and changes to IR35 legislation. Turn to pages 6 – 7 for more.
Last but not least, this publication is packed with product reports across all the key individual and group health and protection product areas, including broker commentary in each. We learn that the individual income protection market was positively booming in 2019. We’ve seen new providers launching into the wellbeing and protection space. And we learn that group income protection is slowly getting more joined up in its approach to added value services, in particular helping to extend essential mental health support to more people.
Uncertainty might be the new norm, but what we do know for sure is that the health insurance and protection industry is pretty buoyant overall. And, thanks to working parties focused on access to insurance and disability and inclusivity, it’s also getting itself in good shape for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.