Funding of UK healthcare is skewed towards the public sector, according to ABI head of health Richard Walsh.
Walsh told last week's Developing Next Generation Protection & Health Insurance Products conference that more private healthcare would increase patient choice, reduce waiting times and improve overall standards of care to enable the UK to compare well with other EU states.
The Government's commitment to massively increase NHS funding will not keep pace with increasing public expectations, said Walsh, who predicted that satisfaction with the NHS compared with the private sector healthcare could actually fall.
He said the ABI wants to foster debate on the best way forward for healthcare funding in the UK and called for the reduction of disincentives for companies to provide employees with corporate private medical insurance.
Walsh said the ABI is looking for ways to help consumers with rare genetic and other conditions to obtain health insurance cover. It is preparing to consult on and pilot a “rare conditions template” which would set out an agreed medical prognosis for a number of conditions to be tailored to each person's circumstances.
He said the ABI is lobbying hard for an amendment to the EU gender discrimination directive that plans to outlaw underwriting of insurance products on grounds of sex.
Walsh said: “2004 will be another very challenging year for the protection and health insurance sector. The health funding debate will heat up, the FSA regulatory house is built and we are keeping our fingers crossed on gender.”