Press release

Grey pound stretches to pay extra for health costs, says survey

Monday 3 December 2007

  • More than half of the over 50s would pay for drugs or treatments not available on the NHS, a Saga survey has revealed.

In a Saga/Populus poll of 6000 people aged over 50, more than half (52 per cent) said they would pay out of their own pocket for treatments for conditions like cancer if they were not available on the NHS, because the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) had ruled they were not cost effective.

The findings come in advance of the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy, and show that the over-50s would be willing to pay on average around 1,500 a year for the drugs. However, one in ten said they would pay more than 5,200 a year for treatments.

Other results include:

* One in six (15 per cent) over 50s say they have been denied NHS treatment on basis of cost

* More than three quarters (81 per cent) would take a daily pill to prevent future diseases

* Almost half (45 per cent) would pay out of their own pocket for preventative drugs at an average of 670 a year

The findings reinforce recent studies showing unequal access to cancer drugs and treatments. Under the present healthcare system, if someone decides to pay for an element of their own treatment they have to fund all their treatment privately. There is no top-up facility in the NHS.

However, it is likely that the new generation of treatments will cost considerably more than the 1500 average payment those over 50 are willing to make. The findings are therefore likely to reignite the debate around co-payments and rationing in the NHS.

Saga Group Chief Executive Andrew Goodsell, said: "Today's results provide food for thought for those considering the debate around the extent to which people should be able to contribute to the cost of their NHS treatment. "We should remember that the over 50s include some of the most vulnerable members of society for whom paying extra for treatments is simply not an option. "On a positive note, prevention is often better than cure and it is encouraging that the older generation is thinking about preventing future ill health."

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors-

Saga Zone was launched on 31 October 2007.

Populus received 6583 responses from adults aged over 50 and over to its online poll for SAGA between 19th and 24th October 2007.

For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.

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