23rd January 2024, by Megan Anderson.
Affordable, not-for-profit healthcare provider Benenden Health has doubled its year-on-year membership growth for its core private healthcare product in 2023 and experienced a 36% increase in service usage including its 24/7 GP helpline, mental health services, diagnostics, and treatment.
In 2023, over 101,420 new members joined the healthcare provider, a 50% increase year-on-year.
Benenden Health’s core services have also seen a surge in requests from its membership. Its 24/7 GP Helpline service, which allows members to book a phone or video call with a GP for its monthly cost of £12.80 per person, was used over 51,000 times in 2023, an increase of 12.5% year-on-year. Likewise, its diagnostic services were requested 89,548 times in 2023, seeing an increase of 61% year-on-year.
Research from Benenden Health has shown a major shift towards private healthcare in the UK. It found that 28% of those surveyed have in the last 12 months either purchased - or investigated purchasing - a subscription-based private health product for the first time. The research also highlighted that 24% have increased their spending on their existing private health products and services in the last 12 months.
Considering the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK, only 4% of those surveyed have decreased their spending on private health in the last 12 months.
Reflecting on the organisation’s significant growth in 2023, Chief Executive Officer Bob Andrews said: “2023 has been a significant year not only for Benenden Health, but for the entire private health industry.
"I am confident the increase in our membership can be linked to the quality of service and reassurance that private healthcare offers, coupled with our affordability as a low-cost private health product, in a time where we are seeing NHS wait lists under pressure. We received 24 calls to our 24/7 GP service every working hour of 2023.
“This, by no means, positions Benenden Health as a competitor to the NHS. There is a positive conversation that can be had about the role of private healthcare alongside a public-funded system. We consider our services complementary to the services it does best and if the NHS can consult, diagnose, and treat someone quickly, that remains our ideal. We are steadfast in supporting our members, and the NHS, in 2024 and the years to come.”
Looking to the future, Chief Commercial Officer Andy Wiggans comments: “We have had an exceptional year at Benenden Health, and the outlook for private health isn’t looking much different.
“Healthcare must be much broader than simply treating physical conditions as they arise, through surgery, or similar treatment. Instead, we will enhance our preventative health support, to improve longer-term outcomes for our members.”
“Technology will play a major role in this aim, as it enables us to broaden the services we offer and at the same time, curate a more personalised experience cognisant of an individual’s needs. For Benenden Health, this means delivering the right solutions, to the right people at the right time.”
Laura Stride, Benenden Health member shares her experience, “There was a possibility I had cancer. I tried to arrange the first appointment as soon as I could, because doctors had been on strike and there was a backlog of appointments. Soon after, I phoned Benenden Health and was told they could support as the wait on the NHS was longer than three weeks. I thought that was fair.
“My appointment and exam were booked swiftly after and then I was referred for an ultrasound. I then saw the Consultant who confirmed that no cancer was present and the symptoms I had been having were in fact as a result of a hormonal blip. The cancers they were originally looking for would have needed to be found as soon as possible, and I am delighted I was able to get answers so soon through Benenden Health. I cannot tell you how much they helped.”
Like most of the private health industry, due to increased requests for services and cost of providing these, Benenden Health is increasing its membership price from £12.80 to £15.50 per person, per month, on 1st April 2024. Even with a 21% increase, it reflects similar increases across the industry and still places the healthcare provider amongst the most cost-effective products in the UK for the wealth of services available. Services include a 24/7 GP helpline, 24/7 mental health helpline, physiotherapy, care planning and social care advice services, diagnostics, treatment and access to health and wellbeing support on the go, with over 200 pieces of preventative health content on the Benenden Health app. This remains a flat rate for all members regardless of age or whether the member has pre-existing conditions.