Life - Articles - Insurers should know support before diagnosis is important

RedArc is encouraging insurers to remember that support is available before a condition has been confirmed, or is eligible for a claim, so that their clients and policyholders can benefit from support and reassurance whilst they wait for tests, test results and follow-on appointments.

 The nurse-led wellbeing service believes that it’s important for insurers who offer this type of support to actively promote it as it is a key differentiator .

 The company also suggests that insurers who do not offer support before a full diagnosis should aim to do so to protect individuals from deterioration. There is a close link between mental and physical health, meaning that an individual’s mental health could worsen before their physical condition is properly understood, potentially leading to a greater number and size of claims at a later date.

 According to NHS Diagnostic Waiting Times and Activity Data, there were 1,333,900 patients who had been referred to but were waiting for one of 15 key diagnostic tests at the end of May 2021 – and many more may be still waiting for their initial referral or GP appointment. Even in normal times, some conditions can take several months, if not years to diagnose, so people can be struggling alone through this limbo period unnecessarily.

 Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says: “Diagnostic testing activity and waiting times have been hugely impacted by the pandemic, in part due to a reduction in testing ability due to new Covid-secure measures, and some missed or delayed referrals due to a fear of getting or spreading the virus.

 “This means there are a huge number of people living with a great deal of uncertainty at present whilst they await a diagnosis, treatment plan and prognosis. Insurers have a great opportunity to step in and help this group via the support they have already have embedded in to their policies..”

 Through their experience, RedArc nurses know that this period is emotionally distressing, and many people will be living with physical discomfort or pain with a lot of uncertainty and worries about the future. RedArc is encouraging insurers to promote the three key aspects of emotional, physical and medical support:

 Emotional support
 Worry, frustration, anger and anxiety are all common emotions that occur during this period of limbo, and talking to friends and family may not be an option for everyone, particularly those who feel they do not wish to burden others until a definite outcome is known. At times like this, a lot of reassurance is needed, that the symptoms are real but also that there could be many explanations or outcomes.

 Having an independent specialist with whom to discuss everything can be a real relief for many experiencing this waiting game and can also help them prepare to communicate their situation to family, friends and their employer.

 Physical support
 Support can also help the individual with symptom and pain management which not only have a physical manifestation but which can also lead to mental health issues when experienced on an ongoing basis.

 Physical support may also be required if the individual has caring responsibilities for others. Support can help the employee understand their options and investigate solutions for children and eldercare, for example.

 Medical support
 Support can help an individual to: navigate the NHS or private healthcare to move things along as quickly as possible, prepare for a GP or consultant appointment by knowing what questions to ask and to understand medical terminology and treatment plans and options

 Christine Husbands continued: “It’s natural for the unknown to become all-consuming with many individuals imagining the worst-case scenario coming true.

 “However, many people do not need to handle this situation on their own but in too many cases they are not aware of the availability of support at this early stage. Too often we hear the words, ‘I wish I’d known you were here for me earlier’ when insurer’s clients and policyholders seek the kind of support we offer.

 “Individuals need more than just a sympathetic ear when they encounter delays in their tests and treatment and many insurers have the means to offer this but they need to shout much louder about it.”

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