Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Association of medical insurance intermediaries summit

I was wearing my private medical insurance (PMI) hat yesterday when I attended the AMII summit held at the Royal college of Physicians in London. Before you click away from this post, please be reassured that this was not about a bunch of brokers bellyaching about commission rates. (Although I must admit that one such gentleman in the audience did embark on a lonely rant about the good old days at one point during a panel discussion)

The presentations and various discussions have been reported in detail in health insurance magazine so I shall just share with you some personal pearls of wisdom gained from the day.

Fergus Walsh, the BBC medical correspondent is definitely my candidate for ‘thinking women’s crumpet of the year award (subsection  healthcare)’. Softly spoken, but authoritative and clearly committed to the cause of improving health knowledge worldwide Fergus was the perfect master of ceremonies. I was particularly interested to learn of his involvement in global healthcare initiatives and his sensitivity in ensuring that his reporting style about often highly emotive subjects is designed to inform but not distress. I shall leave to your imagination the fact that the props that Fergus used for his presentation included a PIP breast implant, some Tamiflu and a bottle of Viagra…

People working with PMI must understand how the NHS works: Regular readers of this blog and my articles in HI magazine know that this is a drum I bang with tedious regularity. I was heartened to note that most of the delegates do have a genuine interest in the Health and Social Care Bill and its implications for their customers and the nation in general. If you are advising your clients on PMI and other private health provision, you really should understand what’s available to them on the state.

We all know that bad lifestyle choices mean that the obesity and lifestyle related diseases are no longer a ticking time bomb but already on slow release detonation. This was touched on in debate and discussion but it’s old news now. That doesn’t mean it should be ignored, quite the opposite, but we no longer need to be told it’s happening.

The Rt Honourable Stephen Dorrell MP is an intelligent, eloquent and impressive individual who appears to have healthcare and the NHS running through his veins. I have heard the Chair of the Health Select Committee speak on several occasions and he talks pragmatic sense. I LOVE that he doesn’t speak in soundbites – ever. Andrew Lansley please note.

Don’t diss the NHS. If you want to sell PMI – don’t knock the NHS. We are still fortunate to have access to a mouth-watering range of healthcare benefits free at the point of delivery and not based on ability to pay. Yes, PMI offers choice, control and flexibility but most of us were born in the NHS and have used its services on many occasions through our lives.

It’s not ‘either or’ – Private medical care must work alongside the state provision. The consensus of formal debate and coffee break chat was that you cannot and should not separate private and public health when planning new PMI products or development of the NHS. It is possible for co-operation for the common good. Really – there is. Careful service design, consensual approach and robust monitoring are the key.

I don’t understand why the new National Director for Patients and Information at the NHS Commissioning Board had ‘cabinet office’ as his slide template. Or that he is a founder of Dr Foster, an information resource often used by the NHS. Probably the less said about that the better…

Circle Partnership is a very interesting organisation. And the managing partner, Mark Aichroth is an impressive individual who described the ‘credo’ of the partnership and spoke with eloquence and apparent honesty regarding the challenges facing the organisation in building new hospitals and partnering with the NHS. One thing no one can deny – the failing Hinchingbrooke hospital has now come top in a patient satisfaction survey less than six months after Circle took it over.

And finally…

Medical insurance intermediaries are good people! Yes – in the good old bad old days health insurance broking was a wheeze. A long boozy lunch with the client, a bit of nifty footwork on commissions and a lot of same old same old used to be fine for all concerned. The clients were happy, insurers happy and the intermediaries were happy too. We have come a long way since then. Most of the intermediaries that I know not only want to do the very best for their clients – they are also genuinely interested in the services on which they advise and the healthcare climate in general. The delegates at yesterday’s event had a tangible thirst not only for the champagne served at the end of the day, but for an understanding of how this industry can move forward and help, not hinder the NHS.


medical consulting said...

Thanks for sharing this very informative information. Even I had not attended the discussion, I gain knowledge because of your post.

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