A subject which has become a political hot potato in recent months has been the subject of NHS Top Ups.
Largely due to the expediential increase in certain drug therapies, driven by ground breaking cancer treatments, the cost of providing unlimited drug treatments to patients has proven difficult for some NHS Trusts.
As new experimental drugs are released onto the market, the question of funding them has become a hotly debated area.
Local NHS Primary Care Trusts, the organisations responsible for region NHS funding have found it difficult to meet the full costs. Driven by guidelines from NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), Primary Care Trusts have found themselves falling short in some funding areas. This has in turn raised issue over patients being able to ‘top up’ the difference.
What’s wrong with Topping Up?
In principle, all you are doing is providing immediate funding to assist with your treatment, it sounds reasonable to many. However, NHS Trusts and Politicians have raised concerns over the two tier system it may create, between those who can afford to part fund and those who cannot.
Previously, the NHS has taken a strong stance forbidding Top Up’s or part private treatment in favour of keeping a level playing field for all. However, as the subject continues to develop more and more NHS Trusts are reviewing their position, and government has also relaxed its position on Top Up’s.
Isn’t this what they do in Europe?
A large proportion of Europe already adopts a top-up stance to healthcare; however the big difference is that this is an integral part of their healthcare regime, unlike that of the UK.
In France for example, the state typically pays 70% of all required treatments. It is up to the individual to fund the difference. Some will do this from savings, whereas the majority use medical insurance to cover the gap.
The state will pay 100% if you suffer a serious illness or are unable to fund yourself, but do to the small amount of risk insurers are facing compared to 100% funding, the insurance market is more attractive in both price and underwriting.
If such an approach could be adopted in the UK, we would require a huge turn around with the NHS, something that many believe could not be successfully done.
Topping Up with Insurance?
It is estimated that as much as 12% of the UK population use some form of medical insurance to either replace their NHS entitlement or compliment it. As times change, and markets adapt, so too do insurance policies.
Today, it is possible to buy specific policies which have been designed with ‘topping up’ in mind, enabling people to privately compliment their NHS benefits in case treatments should prove too expensive.
One particular insurer which has always been renown for innovation is the Western Provident Association (WPA), based in Taunton, Somerset.
WPA have formulated a modular plan called “Health Top UP”, which enables members to top up the areas of their healthcare which they feel most concerned about. The plan comes in separate sections which can be selected to build your ideal policy. These include;
You can select any combination of benefits to meet your personal needs and budge. The plan is currently only available online, and you can obtain a free quote and buy online by clicking here.
- Dental and optical treatment
- Prescription charges
- Specialist cancer drugs
- Emergency treatment whilst holidaying abroad
- Cosmetic surgery after an accident