An independent survey commissioned by leading national healthcare cash plan provider HealthSure reveals that cost is one of the major factors behind an alarming new health ‘waiting’ list.
Far longer than the one that regularly makes press headlines, this waiting list is one of our own making and continues to increase despite constant complaints and heated national debate about healthcare provision on the NHS.
The survey reveals that there could be millions of people with medical problems across the UK who ought to see a doctor, dentist or optician – but don’t, largely because they are concerned about the cost and also what might be wrong with them.
Right across the UK, people are postponing vital health checks. On average, they’re stalling for 10 months before visiting the doctor, 12 months before seeing an optician and for 18 months before a check up with the dentist.
20 per cent of those questioned had delayed a trip to the optician despite being aware they needed an eye check. Three per cent continued to delay even when they were unable to see properly – causing a very real danger to themselves and others!
Dentists get the much the same treatment. 16 per cent shun a routine visit to the dreaded dentists chair and two per cent refuse to go entirely, preferring to put up with the agony of toothache.
It’s a worrying fact that one of the crucial reasons for postponing vital health checks is concern about how much the resulting treatment might end up costing. This is particularly evident when it comes to opticians and dentists.
44 per cent of people avoid eye tests because they are worried about the steep cost of new glasses or contact lenses and 29 per cent put off a trip to the dentist for cost conscious reasons.
A far cry from being a nation of hypochondriacs, one in five has ignored a health problem in the hope that it will go away. The bad news is, in almost 75 per cent of cases these problems don’t disappear as hoped and may even end up costing more to treat in the long run.
Consumer expert and survey author, Jan Walsh, commented: “The political parties have made much out of the issue of choice recently but it seems the general public is actively choosing to ignore its health problems, postpone routine essential health checks and delay treatment.
“It may be true that the length of time we have to wait to be seen by a doctor is improving but it is evident that the length of time doctors, dentists, opticians and other health professionals have to wait before seeing us may also be steadily increasing.
“Britons must be persuaded to take better care of their health and seek treatment earlier but this will only be possible if their worries about cost are alleviated. Ignoring health problems is only delaying the inevitable and a few preventative steps now will keep them healthy long into the future.”
This health report was commissioned to coincide with the launch of a new healthcare policy from HealthSure. From £2.30 per week, it can help alleviate the financial worries of budgeting for healthcare and provides cash towards a wide range of everyday essential treatments including dental, optical, physiotherapy, health screening and complementary therapies.
For further information freephone 0800 085 6636 or visit www.healthsure.org.uk.
Notes to editors
Locality has a significant effect on our willingness to grin and bear it:
- Those in the South East are most likely to ignore health problems, more than 30 per cent have done so. 22 per cent of Scots and 22 per cent of those in the West Midlands are also silent sufferers
- The people of Wales and the North East are least likely to delay. Only 4 per cent and 8 per cent respectively have postponed a visit to the doctor in the event of illness or pain
- However, those that do delay, do so for seriously lengthy periods. Those in the North East and West Midlands are the worst culprits avoiding the doctor for 24 and 19 months respectively before making an appointment
- Further regional statistics are available on request
NO MORE EXCUSES FOR SHARON AND DAVID
New parents, Sharon and David Ashton from Timperley in Cheshire had been delaying essential health checks due to financial worries following the birth of their first baby nearly 18 months ago.
However, since the family took out a healthcare cash plan with HealthSure just over six months ago, they have all benefited – both physically and financially.
Sharon explains: “Simple healthcare costs such as a check up or filling at the dentist or eyesight test at the optician are getting more and more expensive. Each time David or I visited for a check up, I got quite worried, not about the health of our eyes or teeth, but more about the potential damage to our pocket.
“We both wear glasses so we should really have regular eyesight checks and I also have contact lenses that cost me around £24 every two months. As we’re not with an NHS dentist, we had both been visiting a local private surgery twice a year for a check up scale and polish costing around £48 each time.
“When we had our first baby Charles over 18 months ago, our finances were really stretched. Like all new parents, we had other priorities for our cash and it got to the stage where we began to postpone our routine check ups, delaying for as long as possible between appointments and really putting it to the back of our minds. Obviously, we knew this couldn’t continue but didn’t feel that we had an alternative at the time.”
“Then I heard about HealthSure. Its new healthcare cash plan policy offers one of the largest payments towards dental and optical treatments and enables you to claim back 100 per cent of the cost up to set policy limits. We decided to go for it and took out a two adult level three plan costing £7.60 per week.
“Luckily for us, we benefited from a promotional incentive that meant we could start making claims immediately with no waiting period.
“I immediately booked us in for dental and optical checks – only to find that my prescription had changed and I needed new lenses while David required two fillings! He went straight ahead and had the work done and I got some new lenses. In total we claimed back £80 on optical and £56 for dental treatments in addition to the cost of the initial check ups.
“We’ve also been making use of the other benefits. I work in a stressful office and have especially enjoying being able to claim half the cost towards a relaxing reflexology treatment at £25 every now and again and David is going to start a course of physiotherapy that will come to around £128 for a knee injury from football.
“We would never have considered either of these if it hadn’t been for HealthSure and I’m even considering booking both of us in for a top to toe health screen to check out just how healthy we really are!”
David, 36, is an engineer and Sharon, 34, is an office manager. In total they have already claimed a significant amount towards the cost of expected and unexpected everyday essential healthcare treatments.
HealthSure is one of the UK’s leading national healthcare providers. Based in Manchester, the company offers one and two person policies with four simple price points on each, starting from £2.30 per week.
Making it easy and affordable for the whole family to visit the optician and dentist for regular health checks, the new healthcare cash plan from HealthSure is designed to meet today’s healthcare requirements.
One of the most relevant and competitive products in the marketplace, it offers wide ranging cover and generous payments in all treatment areas.
Policyholders are able to claim cash towards the cost of a variety of everyday essential healthcare costs – up to £240 for dental, £270 for optical and significant sums for physiotherapy, chiropody, health screening and a wide range of complementary therapies.
Payments will also be made towards x-rays, specialist consultations and there is a nightly allowance for hospital stays. In addition there is a 24 hour legal, domestic, stress and bereavement helpline should advice ever be needed.
For further information, photography or case study information please contact Victoria Moore or Abigail Moore at Mere Communication Ltd.
Tel: 0161 929 8700 Fax: 0161 929 8300 Mobile: 07966 156618
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