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WPA – Western Provident Association

Our rating:  8/10              Best for personal policies and small corporate policies.

WPA is a leading UK health insurer with a not-for-profit heritage of over 110 years. “As a Provident Association we are passionate in providing exemplary levels of service for our customers – not short-term shareholder gains. We have over 80 local offices across the UK providing a service with a personal touch. We give our customers the freedom to choose.”

The primary overriding purpose for having private medical insurance should be to provide the freedom to choose any medical consultant expert of your choice and as advised by your GP and not being diverted, “managed” or restricted by an insurance network or restricted partners to a consultant who may not be ideal or the most appropriate on medical grounds.

“We believe that you, advised by your doctor, should have the freedom to choose your specialist based on your needs and circumstances.  We believe that open referral (restricted referral – where some insurers direct patients to particular consultants) – is a contradiction in terms: private medical insurance is an elective purchase, giving policyholders the freedom to choose.”

  “We believe that this should be a clinical not a commercial decision.”

“A patient´s choice is normally based on their GP´s recommendation or it may be based on their own research; in many cases it is because the consultant is someone whom they have seen previously. Consultants´ attitude to ´open referral´.  The Medical Profession is highly critical of restricted referral and its negative impact on patient care. We agree.”

With open referral patients may therefore lose their primary choice of consultant and possibly of hospital. They may still receive appropriate treatment for their condition but not all consultants have the same specialist interests.

A recent survey of medical consultants showed that Consultants´ attitude to ´open referral´ was highly critical of restricted referral and its negative impact on patient care. 87% of consultants responded that Medical Insurance Policies which restricted choice of consultants, utilised network or partnership arrangement restricting the choice of consultants on a cost basis, resulted in “Worse” or “less effective treatment”.

Consultant research commissioned by WPA and conducted by independent market research specialists – GfKNOP. 1086 UK Consultants, Surgeons & GPs engaged in private practice were surveyed in December 2012. 591 responses (54%). For further information: http://www.dailymail.co.uk.

“WPA are one of the only insurers to volunteer details of ombudsman complaints against us.”

WPA are also one of the few insurance companies who publish and rely upon a published schedule of fees which are applicable to all their policies.  http://www.wpa.org.uk/medical/feesearch.aspx Many other insurers are not so forthcoming with their fee structure or the scale of payments they make. Many utilise different schedules of payments depending on the policies: Personal / Corporate / Executive / Premium. Beware the so-called “maxima” from other insurers. Specifically and intentionally, these do not represent the maximum payment made under all policies nor are applicable to all medical specialists and implementation of these “maxima” is variable.

Western Provident Association
Rivergate House, Blackbrook Park, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 2PE
Tel no:  01823 625000

Web site:  http://www.wpa.org.uk/about/about-wpa.aspx