Today’s patients are aware of inflationary cost pressures, according to results from L.E.K. Consulting’s 2024 healthcare services pricing survey, and they are accepting of (and even expect) corresponding increases in treatment price. Looking across specialties in the EU5 markets — the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy — 70% of patients are willing to accept c.5% price rises, and c.30% would accept c.10% rises, with limited impact on demand. Just c.12% of respondents would consider cancelling treatment or waiting for publicly provided treatment in light of price rises (see Figures 1 and 2).

Dentistry in particular sees the highest proportion of patients who are accepting of near-term increases, while cosmetic-focused treatments remain more competitive. When choosing a provider, patients increasingly view price as an important criterion, though overall they still seem hesitant to switch based on price alone. In the present environment, providers can be confident about passing through price increases to patients, but optimising costs based on local competition should yield the full benefit and allow them to remain competitive. 

Looking across specialties (see Figure 3), patients expect the highest price rises to occur in dental treatments (c.65%), followed by ophthalmology (c.60%), physiotherapy (c.57%) and elderly care services (c.56%). As mentioned, cosmetic-focused procedures, including hair removal/transplants, are expected to remain more competitive, with 40%-45% of patients expecting prices to rise. In each of these areas, it will be important for providers to optimise prices to maximise those uplifts while remaining competitive.  

Within dentistry, across treatment types, UK patients expect the greatest price increases, though this will likely be indexed against increases for NHS-funded treatment, which rose by 8.5% in April 2023 (see Figure 4). Patients in Italy expect smaller price rises than those in other EU5 markets, in part because publishing price lists is uncommon in that country, which reduces patients’ ability to shop around.

Patients across the EU5 markets are accepting of price increases for private dentistry, with 70%-75% proceeding with treatment and just c.10% delaying if needed. When facing increases in private prices, patients tend not to see publicly provided treatment as a viable substitute, with <10% indicating they would wait for public access. A notable exception is France, where patients are more likely than those in other EU5 markets to postpone treatment or seek access through the public system (See Figure 5).

Patients in the EU5 markets overall remain engaged with private healthcare, with 40% definitely likely to privately fund their treatment and a further 30% actively considering this step; growing awareness and acceptance across patients continue to make private healthcare an increasingly integral component of healthcare systems across EU5 nations (See Figure 6).

Public healthcare systems continue to see the ongoing impact of COVID-19 disruption, with challenges further intensified by stretched public funding given elevated inflation levels and sluggish macroeconomic growth. Substantial waiting lists and lack of access through the public system are driving patients to seek alternative routes for accessing care (See Figure 7). 

Across the EU5 markets, c.50% of patients note the cost of treatment has a greater impact on their choice of provider than was the case five years ago. To date, however, patients seldom switch providers for this reason; this leaves room for providers to implement price increases whilst still retaining and attracting patients, as long as prices are appropriately benchmarked against competitors’ (See Figure 8). 

How L.E.K. can help

We have developed proprietary pricing assessment tools that support providers in optimising prices across site portfolios whilst benchmarking against local competitors. Get in touch with us to see how our exclusive tools and research capabilities can help protect or enhance provider margins. 

L.E.K. Consulting is a registered trademark of L.E.K. Consulting. All other products and brands mentioned in this document are properties of their respective owners. © 2024 L.E.K. Consulting

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