UK workers increasingly turn to private healthcare, The Exeter report reveals

The Exeter’s 2023 Health and Financial Fears report reveals a significant rise in the use of private healthcare among UK workers, with 64% now opting for private solutions, up from 53% the previous year.

This increase is attributed to difficulties in accessing NHS treatments and GP appointments, affecting 74% of the working population, or 24.3 million people, a 13% increase from 2022.

Concerns about the affordability of private healthcare are also on the rise, with 21% of consumers in 2023 worried about costs, compared to 17% in 2022.

Despite higher NHS waiting times, public concern remains steady at 39%, while worries about booking same-day or face-to-face GP appointments have decreased from 49% in 2022 to 37% in 2023.

Over half of the workers surveyed (54%) are unwilling to wait more than three months for NHS treatment, with 18% not prepared to wait over 30 days. Young adults and men are notably less willing to endure long waiting times.

Karen Woodley, head of healthcare distribution at The Exeter, said: “It’s sadly no surprise that access to healthcare services continues to be one of the major concerns for UK workers this year.

“The NHS does a fantastic job, but it continues to face pressures that any public or private entity would struggle with, making private healthcare a valuable alternative.

“Private solutions offer many benefits, which is why it is important that UK workers consider all the options available to them to provide a safety net in the event of ill health.

“Despite the backdrop of rising bills, the uptake in private health insurance this year is a positive sign of these safety nets getting stronger across the UK.”

Steve Bryan, director of distribution and marketing at The Exeter, added: “It’s positive to see more people now considering health insurance to help them manage their personal health and wellbeing.

“Yet, despite the increased demand for private services, there is more to do to address perceptions around affordability, particularly as household budgets continue to feel the squeeze.

“Guided options and the flexibility of products means health insurance is more affordable than many assume and highlights the valuable role of advisers in helping workers access the cover they need at a price that suits their budget.”