Heartbeat Heart and Cancer
Type: Individual private medical insurance
Minimum-maximum ages: From birth-100
Maximum benefits: No maximum
Cover provided: Diagnosis, consultations for and treatment of heart conditions and cancer
Excess: £100 – £2,000
Options: Annual health check at additional cost
Commission: Initial 25%, renewal 5%
Tel: 0800 332000
Guy Jones, managing director, Berwick Devoil Healthcare, Keith Lewis, proprietor, Hartley Greatbatch & Co, George Connelly, partner, Healthcare Matters, Luke Gibbon, Independent Personal Financial Management, Simon Firmin, life & pensions adviser, Plan Insure
Range of cover 4.4
Premium rates 5.2
Company’ reputation 7.0
Product literature 3.8
Heartbeat heart and cancer has been introduced following a survey conducted by Bupa, in which eight out of ten respondents expressed the most concern about these areas.
Commenting on how the plan fits into the market Jones says: ” plan seems to fit into a broad spectrum of the market with benefits to suit all needs. The heart and cancer benefits will be attractive primarily to those who have the possibility of genetically suffering from either condition.” Firmin says: ” clients new to the market may dismiss traditional plans due to affordability, but this option focuses the mind and gives the IFA another string to their bow.” Connelly says: ” does not fit into the market. It is a niche product and could appeal to those who have not previously considered private medical insurance (PMI) or rejected it in the past.”
Assessing the cover available Connelly says: ” seems to meet all costs from initial consultation to leaving hospital but it doesn’ offer nursing at home.” Lewis says: ” wonder what is the advantage of this plan since I assume both heart and cancer are covered by existing plans.” Gibbon says: “In theory, the plan covers cancer and coronary conditions. However, it appears to only cover acute conditions and not chronic conditions. As cancer and coronary problems are often ongoing, I suspect that many claims may not be met.”
The panel turn their attention to the type of client for whom this plan would be suitable. Gibbon says: ” I do not believe the plan will deliver the expected benefits at precisely the time people need it, I would not recommend this plan.” Jones says the plan is suitable for anyone, especially those people who are at risk genetically. Lewis and Connelly agree, saying it mainly targets people concerned about heart problems and cancer. Firmin says: ” clients who have faith in the NHS for lesser procedures and will undoubtedly be on a budget.”
Turning to the marketing opportunities the plan will provide Lewis says: “, since it covers the problems that people foresee as the biggest concerns, then it should do well in terms of marketing.” Firmin says the health check option should be an important angle, well received by clients. However, Gibbon says: ” will not be marketing the plan and would urge IFAs to get in writing from Bupa, a clear and concise definition of acute and chronic before recommending it.”
Next the panel give their views on the main useful features and strong points of the plan. Jones says: ” covers the two main emotive conditions that scare people the most, it is cheaper than ordinary private medical insurance, it encourages early detection of both conditions which have a higher survival rate if diagnosed early and it’ from Bupa.” Connelly highlights the wide choice of hospitals and what appear to be reasonable costs. Firmin says: ” simplicity is certainly an advantage at a typical cost of less than half comprehensive cover for the examples provided, no maximum limits and treatment available at centres of excellence.”
Looking at the plan’ drawbacks Jones says: ” is not easy to get a quote on the internet and it is not broker friendly as quotes require medical information that may not be easily available – especially via brokers who deal primarily over the phone with clients.” Gibbon says: ” disadvantages are that the cover is limited and it may not pay out when expected.” Firmin says with no competition, how do clients know they are getting value for money. Connelly thinks the average claim cost could be high and may lead to escalation in premiums.
The panel then comment on Bupa’ reputation. Connelly says: ” has made strenuous efforts to improve its service levels and deserves credit for this.” Firmin thinks its reputation is of a more specialist nature with strong branding. Lewis says: ” is a name synonymous with health care. Although it does provide the largest private health hospitals, it has the reputation of being quite costly.” Gibbon says: ” generally has a good reputation. However, I think this plan is more likely to damage than help this.”
Pinpointing the main competition to this plan Lewis says: ” the likes of Norwich Union and PPP.” Jones says: ” PMI plans excluding outpatient cover or with a large excess, cash plans, self pay and other limited plans such as that from Simplyhealth.” Gibbon agrees that full PMI plans will provide competition but at a higher cost. He says they will still have the exclusion for chronic conditions but cover more medical problems. Firmin says: ” budget plans offering similar premium rates due to high excesses or reduced benefit.”
Analysing how the premium rates compare to similar plans Jones says there are no similar plans but he would like to see how low the premiums will be in five years. Lewis says: ” it is a new concept and the cover is quite complicated, the features of plans from other providers do not offer like-for-like benefits and hence costs. I assume it has been priced to compete quite aggressively on rates.” Gibbon says: ” premiums I have been given are only examples as the cost is set for each applicant. It may be that clients whose relatives have coronary or cancer problems may be rated higher.”
Commission is the next aspect of the plan the panel debate. Jones says: ” broker offering this plan will earn every penny of the commission just for getting through the quotation process. But 25 per cent initial commission and 5 per cent renewal is reasonable.” Gibbon thinks commission appears to be industry standard assuming the rates quoted are for annual premiums. Connelly says: ” most policies which offer a set percentage this has a specific amount for various bands of premium. Both initial and renewal commission seem well below that offered by other insurers.” Lewis thinks commission has been cut to pay for the appeal of lower costs and the speciality of the contract.
Focusing on the product literature next, in general, the panel’ comments are negative. In particular, Jones thinks Bupa has missed out on selling an innovative product through brokers or over the web with a simplified application form and premium chart. Gibbon thinks it highlights the good points and none of the exclusions.
Finally, the panel sum up heartbeat heart and cancer. Jones says: ” not have a policy that works in the reverse of heart and cancer and offers the option to include conditions that the NHS is able to deal with quite quickly?” Lewis says: ” I believe Bupa has fallen into the trap of over-elaborating and possibly ruining what is probably a very good marketing ploy.” Gibbon says: “The industry has been criticised in the past for its lack of clarity and I feel the product and marketing literature exemplifies why. I would ask the industry to give a precise definition of acute and chronic so that policyholders know exactly where they stand.”