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Top-up payments wont affect entitlement to NHS care

Patients will be allowed to top up payments for non-NHS treatments, such as expensive drugs, without losing their entitlement to NHS care, the Government has announced.

This will have an effect on employers that provide private medical insurance or health cash plans to employees. Staff will be able to take advantage of more expensive medication without their NHS care being affected

The announcement follows a report from Mike Richards, former clinical director of cancer services at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust in London, on whether or not patients should have to pay to top up NHS treatment.

Mike Izzard, chairman of the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries, said: "In our society, choice is so fundamental and if an individual wishes to top up their healthcare treatment, either by paying for it themselves or through an insurance policy, then they should be able to do so without fear of there being any impact on their NHS care."

Aon Consulting's head of healthcare benefits Alex Bennett, added: "This announcement is only a first step, but if businesses are to invest more in managing employee health risks, then the ability to limit future liabilities in the knowledge that  individuals can top up their health benefits, must be seen as progress. If the principle of copayment becomes more widely accepted, this will eventually allow employers to offer more relevant benefits and choices to their employees.

"For employees, there are likely to be new benefit designs that provide clearer choices between choosing cover for high cost cancer treatments and low cost therapies, in the knowledge that they could top up cover if they needed to."