Madrid (EFE).- Almost a million and a half people took out private health insurance in Spain between December 2019 (just before the pandemic) and December 2022, bringing the total number of insured to more than a quarter of the population, 25.32%, and amounts to just over 12 million people.
The saturation that the public health system began to register in 2020, overwhelmed by the flood of coronavirus cases, caused many people to choose to take out insurance due to the shorter waiting lists in private centers, the possibility of choosing a doctor or that of having a private room.
According to the latest data from ICEA, the sector’s statistics and studies service, corresponding to the end of 2022, health insurance grew by almost 14% in the number of users in the aforementioned period and by 20.5% in billing, to reach 10,334 million euros at the end of last year.
Those 10,334 million, invoiced by the 58 companies that operate in the Spanish health branch, represented 16% of the 64,673 million that Spanish insurance entered in total last year.
Returning to health insurance, the increase registered in these pandemic years also increased the market share by volume of premiums of the five large Spanish health insurers -SegurCaixa Adeslas, Sanitas, Asisa, DKV and Mapfre- by more than one percentage point. , which closed 2022 with 73% of the cake.
The absolute leader of the Spanish private healthcare market is SegurCaixa Adeslas, which includes the business of Mutua Madrileña, with a 30.04% share, followed by Sanitas, with 15.49%; Asisa, with 13.25%; DKV, with 7.40% and Mapfre, with 6.77%.
As for the income from premiums of the five big ones, they grew by 20.5% in those three years and totaled 7,689 million euros.
Different types of health policies
There are many types of health policies on the market, such as those for the provision of services, which can be for health care or a medical directory (which allow access to a set of services in exchange for a premium and are the most common) or reimbursement ( the insured pays for the services received and the insurer returns part of the amount).
There are also subsidy insurances, which compensate the insured in the event that they must take sick leave, hospitalization, or some other health-related cause, explains the Spanish insurance employer, Unespa, on its website.
Within this branch, health care insurance grew by 7.36% in 2022, while reimbursement insurance increased by 6.20% and subsidy insurance fell by 2.40%.
Unespa: Private insurance does not compete, it complements the public
The health needs of a society are very extensive and the available resources are limited, explain Unespa sources, who defend that public and private health are not rivals, but rather complement each other and that, in fact, private health allows a significant cost savings for the public system.
Medical insurance is successful because its prices are “competitive and accessible”, the available offer is wide and they have differential characteristics, such as innovative treatments, complementary therapeutic options, quick access to specialists or coverage abroad, the sources maintain.
These characteristics have been the reason for the sustained growth that health insurance billing has maintained in the last three decades.
These insurances have more than doubled since 2006, just before the last great economic and financial crisis, which exploded with the bankruptcy of the American entity Lehman Brothers and the subprime mortgage crisis, since at the end of that year the branch had a turnover of 4,916 million euros and in 2022 it exceeded 10,000 million.
The contribution of the private health system to the national health system was demonstrated during the pandemic, since the sector provided covid patients with access to treatment and paid for diagnostic tests for millions of people in Spain, which contributed to containing the pandemic in the country, explains the employer.
“There are 12 million people who pay for health insurance in Spain”, according to data from 2022 and who, therefore, “do not consume public health services”, which represents an “obvious” cost saving for the Administration, adds Unespa.