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‘Growing need for CI as NHS rations treatments’

Scottish Widows believes consumers should take out critical-illness cover as a contingency plan against rising healthcare costs and future rationing of medical treatments by the NHS.

Primary care trusts have come under fire after refusing to provide the breast cancer drug Herceptin free of charge to some patients and Scottish Widows technical adviser Dr Marius Barnard says CI cover could help to cover the costs of such treatments.

Head of protection development Johnny Timpson says such cases highlight the need for CI to be considered as more than just a way of covering mortgage repayments.

He says the rising cost of medical treatment means that the Government will be forced to ration treatments available on the NHS. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recently imposed a threshold of £30,000 per person for an added year of life provided by a treatment.

Any drug which costs more than this threshold will not be provided free of charge on the NHS, forcing patients to dip into private savings to cover the costs of treatment.
Timpson says: “The NHS is only one pot of money and the time has come for consumers to take a more holistic approach to protection and have a contingency plan in place.

“The continued advance of medical science and rising costs of treatments mean medicines are going to have to be rationed. CI policies could be used to cover these treatments in addition to paying off your mortgage in the event of illness.”

Friends Provident head of protection marketing Ian Jefferies says: “It sounds as though Scottish Widows has a valid point. Pressure on NHS budgets and new drugs being developed which are only available at high costs means CI cover would have a valid role to play in this.”

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