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Product Matters

There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of consumers paying for medical treatment from their own pocket. Over 300,000 self-pay treatments were carried out in 2000, accounting for almost a third of all private treatment, while there was a 3 per cent fall in the number of people covered by traditional private medical insurance products.

Standard Life Healthcare launched Choices a year ago. The customer chooses a high excess of either£1,000,£2,500 or£5,000, reflecting the maximum amount they want to pay for an episode of treatment. The policy pays the balance with no maximum.

Self-Pay Protect from WPA is a variation on the theme. It reimburses 30 per cent, 50 per cent or 75 per cent of all private hospital costs, limited to£50,000 each year. A 30-year-old would pay a premium of£125 a year for the 75 per cent option. These policies can save up to 80 per cent on premiums for traditional PMI products.

Self-Pay Protect does not cover out-patient consultations and treatment, nor any treatment undertaken within 90 days of cover commencing.

Because the customer is responsible for a proportion of the costs of treatment received, the adviser should ensure they are aware of the real cost of typical surgical procedures. The typical cost of a heart bypass operation is£14,500 and a knee replacement is£7,400.

Both Choices and Self-Pay Protect would be good starting points for IFAs wanting to dip their toes in the PMI market. WPA is offering initial commission of 50 per cent until December 2001.

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