Stagnant UK PMI market forces innovation

LaingBuisson has launched the 15th edition of its UK Health Cover market report, which looks at private medical insurance, health cash plans and dental benefit plans. While total UK spend on private medical insurance (PMI) is estimated at £4.81 billion in 2017, the market has been stagnant for the last two years. The report sees potential in innovation via new wellbeing products, digital technology and AI; and repositioning health insurers as ‘health and wellbeing providers’.

The overall picture of the UK medical cover market shows flat growth for the second year running with 4 million policies taken up. Following a boost in 2015 created by a handful of large companies choosing to extend health cover plans to cover their entire workforce, there has been no growth. The market has been onerously burdened by steep rises in insurance premium tax (IPT) resulting in an elevated number of lapses, and downtrading and higher excesses have featured to keep insurance affordable. The report has also identified a trend towards family coverage.

Greater potential lies in innovation. There is a growing focus on supporting employee wellbeing through physical and mental health prevention, and key issues for employers include reducing sickness rates and improving productivity. Consequently, repositioning the offering of the health insurer as a ‘health and wellbeing provider’ creates a differentiator which answers questions being faced by corporate buyers and also appeals to individuals.

There is also growth in the provision of access to private GP services and mental health counselling for employees, as many private medical insurance and cash plan policies now offer these services as standard. It is also core to new ‘wellbeing’ products and digital technology and AI is enabling employees to engage with doctors and counsellors at their own convenience, and follow their own self-help wellbeing plan.

For more information about the report, visit