Doctors and insurers squabble over fees for medical reports

Life insurance customers are likely to be trapped in the middle of a row over medical reports that could stop them taking out cover.

Penny pinching insurance firms have pulled out of an agreement with doctors to pay a £97 fee for GPs to provide medical reports on patients – instead they want patients to request £10 data access requests and send the information on.

In response, doctors have told insurers that the reports may not contain accurate information about the patient’s state of health.

While doctors and insurers argue over money, the patient suffers.

Insurance companies will not put a policy on risk if they have not had a medical report – and the problem for people who need cover is if the doctor does not write-off the report, then the underwriting team will not accept a claim.

Both sides are squeezing the customer – the insurers are looking at ways to cut costs and doctors are seeking to charge a fee for providing the report.

The likely way forward is at the expense of the customer if neither side budges – with doctors forcing them to foot the £97 bill for signing off the report.

The British Medical Association – who negotiated the fee with the Association of British Insurers for doctors – is now seeking legal advice about how to proceed.

Meanwhile, doctors have been told to send medical files to patients if a report is requested by an insurance company. The patient also receives a checklist of information to forward to the insurer and details about their health that they do not have to reveal.

These sensitive details include personal information about HIV and smoking, for instance.

The BMA also points out that although the £10 fee covers a data access request under the Data Protection Act from a patient, the laws do not let third parties like insurance companies to make such requests.

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