Public-private sector interactions and the demand for supplementary health insurance in the United Kingdom

Aniko Biro, Mark Hellowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We examine the demand for private health insurance (PHI) in the United Kingdom and relate this to changes in the supply of public and private healthcare. Using a novel collection of administrative, private sector and survey data, we re-assess the relationships between the quality and availability of public and private sector inpatient care, and the demand for PHI. We find that PHI coverage in the United Kingdom is positively related to the median of the region- and year-specific public sector waiting times. We find that PHI prevalence ceteris paribus increases with being self-employed and employed, while it decreases with having financial difficulties. In addition, we highlight the complexities of inter-sectoral relations and their impact on PHI demand. Within a region, we find that an increase in private healthcare supply is associated with a decrease in public sector waiting times, implying lower PHI demand. This may be explained by the usage of private facilities by NHS commissioners. These results have important implications for policymakers interested in the role of private healthcare supply in enhancing the availability of and equitable access to acute inpatient care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)840-847
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number7
Early online date6 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • private health insurance
  • demand
  • waiting times
  • quality
  • National Health Service
  • hospitals


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