Financial Medical Partnership

Recent years have seen an increase in self-pay patients

3 Aug 2011 by FMP Accountant

Every year, private healthcare in the UK sees an increase in self-paying patients. A self-pay patient is anyone who uses a private healthcare provider without using insurance to pay. Oftentimes, these patients are billed before they are seen by medical professionals. Most people who self pay for medical services have no problem paying a fixed price before treatment is given; not all self-payers choose this method because they have been denied insurance. Many think paying up front is a better use of money than buying insurance in the first place. It is standard procedure to request payment from patients in advance, and the increased number of self-pay patients who pay in this way has brought about an influx of fixed-price medical services in recent years. There are many reasons why patients choose to self pay at a private practice. Often, people will be driven to the private sector of healthcare because they hear about long waiting lists with the NHS. These people may have a sudden need for medical treatment unavailable in the NHS, but they had probably not considered private medical care in the past and may not have insurance. This is especially true of the elderly, who may fear inadequate care in the NHS, opting instead to self pay in the private sector. In other cases, patients self pay because they have opted out of their insurance policies. Regular subscription fee hikes have made some people decide that health insurance is too expensive. Insurance companies sometimes include many exceptions to coverage in their policies, which can be frustrating if patients need immediate care. Some insurers claim that any treatment requiring multiple visits in a short period of time is ‘chronic’ and must be referred to the NHS. Because of these problems with insurance, paying into a personal health savings account can make more sense than buying a policy, especially when insurance rates grow faster than inflation. People with their own health accounts may think they are getting a better deal by self paying as needed. This is often true, as many hospitals and private groups now offer fixed-price packages for self-paying patients. With a fixed-price package, the patient pays an agreed upon price before service is rendered, and usually doesn’t have to pay more if complications arise. The amount charged to customers is usually less than what would be billed to insurers.

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