Concerns over NHS waiting times prompt Cigna diagnosis product

Daniel Liberto

Priority Diagnostics Plan has been rolled out as a cheaper alternative to comprehensive PMI plans and is focused on quickly and privately diagnosing medical conditions rather than covering the cost of private treatment.

According to Cigna, a white-label insurance provider, users of the product are able to choose which specialist medical consultant and hospital they use.

The NHS has undergone reforms and budget cuts in recent years and the insurance provider has moved to address concerns of deteriorating public healthcare waiting times.

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According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Cigna, 30 per cent of UK consumers are concerned about delays in getting diagnosed by the NHS, which was subsequently revealed to be the biggest cause of dissatisfaction.

Moreover, the research found that just one in seven people in the UK is covered by private medical insurance, a gap that the provider identified as an opportunity to offer services that better suit the nation’s health needs.

Priority Diagnostics Plan offers two levels of cover – gold and silver – both of which provide guaranteed acceptance after an initial waiting period of 30 days.

Policyholders will be presented with access to the latest tests and scans, and will receive 24/7 telephone support provided by trained nurses.

If necessary, policyholders will also be referred to a private consultant by their GP. Gold members will be referred immediately, while silver level members will be referred after four weeks, should the NHS be unable to assist. Following diagnosis, users of this service can then be referred back to the NHS, or alternatively they can pay the additional cost of private healthcare.


Provider view

Chris Jones, head of product management at Cigna Insurance Services, said: “With the NHS having to find £20bn in savings by 2015 at the same time as continuing to implement its new structure, our research reinforces the extent to which consumers are genuinely concerned about the impact these changes might have on them and their families. Our research shows that while the British public are ‘proud and protective’ of the NHS, waiting times are a worry for many. Priority Diagnostics Plan has been developed in response to this need, and targets the overwhelming majority of customers who do not have access to, or cannot afford the cost of, a comprehensive PMI plan, but who still want to limit their anxiety by getting their medical problems diagnosed quickly.”

Adviser view

Tom Binstead, director of employee benefits at Gloucestershire-based Bank House Corporate, said: “Private medical insurance is a benefit viewed very positively by both employers and employees alike. Cost is usually the barrier to implementing a full policy, so if a cheaper alternative offers the chance of early diagnosis, I believe employers will see the benefit, should a good-quality traditional private medical insurance scheme be unattainable. It is not something I have come across before, but it is a good idea. I will be looking into it further now I am aware it exists, as I am sure it will have a place in the market.”