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NU sets out plan to &#39nationalise&#39 private health

Norwich Union Healthcare is trying to build an industrywide consensus for its proposed healthcare model, which would see the NHS compete as an insurer with the private sector by offering consumers a core package of cover.

Initially unveiled in September 2001, the stakeholder healthcare model would see individuals pay a separate premium for their healthcare, reflected by reduced income tax rates.

Some tax revenue would still be funnelled into a ringfenced pot earmarked specifically for healthcare costs.

NUHC is now planning to take its proposal to the Government, presenting it as a viable alternative to a publicly run healthcare system.

The provider says it has received support from the ABI and rivals such as Standard Life Healthcare for its scheme.

It points to the independent review of NHS resources by Derek Wanless, which estimated that 80 per cent additional funding in real terms is needed by 2013 to maintain the NHS.

With the cooperation of economic consultant National Economic Research Associates, the company has costed the model and predicts the average annual premium for individuals, including dependent children, would be £1,518.

NUHC estimates, on implementation, national healthcare costs would remain broadly similar to today&#39s figures but over the long term they could actually drop as the NHS is forced to compete with insurers on a price and service basis.

In addition to the core proposition, which would see insurers covering all essential healthcare services, they could also offer top-up services, which NUHC says would be cheaper than private treatments on the marketplace today.

Commercial director Tim Baker says: “In many ways, this could be seen as the nationalisation of the current private system. It all comes down to whether you believe tax funding will be sufficient to pay for healthcare needs. There is a big question as to whether this is sustainable.”

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