Going Private

Why don’t people use private healthcare?

Although most people (63%) would consider using private healthcare, we asked people who said they would not consider using private healthcare to tell us why (20% of the public gave this answer).

By far the most common reason is affordability. 63% of people said that they ‘could never afford it’, rising to above 70% among DE social grades and those on the lowest incomes.

“It all seems a ridiculous amount of money to be fair.

Middle-aged woman, South East

We know that financial barriers mean that private healthcare will be out of reach for some people.

Two other common factors among those who would not consider using private healthcare were: You can get access to the same medical professionals in the NHS (34% gave this as a reason) and I don’t approve of private healthcare in principle (27% gave this as a reason).

It is right that the NHS provides a wide range of services that many people rely on without ever using the private system, and that many professionals work across both the NHS and private system. It may be that some people are prepared to wait for the NHS even if faster treatment may be available privately.

It is a notable finding that all in all, comparatively few people cite disapproval of private healthcare in principle as a reason for not using it, despite the often polarised and vocal criticism of the sector which is evident in some quarters.

Only one in four (27%) of the 20% of people who would not consider going private give this as a reason. This was an even smaller proportion in the youngest age group – just 14% of the 20% said that they don’t use private healthcare because they don’t approve of it in principle.

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