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Ben Stickland

Ben Stickland on the next generation of healthcare

By Ben Stickland

Partner, WPA Healthcare Practice

With worldly experience from time spent in New Zealand managing insurance responses to earthquakes, and in Australia working on behalf of the esteemed Lloyd’s of London, Ben Stickland is knowledgeable beyond his 24 years.

Upon returning to the UK, Ben was one of the first young people to be taken on by the WPA Healthcare Practice, and is one of 90 franchisees of a healthcare company which has achieved recognition from the World Health Organisation.

At a time when health is at the forefront of people’s minds, and with the pandemic changing the way people are interacting with the healthcare system; the young Devonian is trailblazing a new generation into advocating private healthcare to work concurrently with the NHS.

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As a young person operating in a long-standing industry; how would you say you differ from your forerunners?

I remember my Dad saying to me that people won't want to buy health insurance from a young person; which hasn’t turned out to be true. In WPA the young guys have brought a new energy to go out and do it. Being a young person in the industry has not been a hurdle at all; in fact, it has been a major asset.

WPA is a multi-award-winning not-for-profit insurer, and has achieved recognition from the WHO (World Health Organisation). How has your experience been as a franchisee of the company?

You have to believe in what you sell, and I truly do. I not only believe in the concept of health insurance in the UK, but I also believe in WPA. They're one of the only not-for-profit providers; meaning we have no shareholders to appease, the premiums aren't inflated to cater to them, and we don't have claims-based premiums on the family, individual and SME policies, plus our members have the freedom to choose any private hospital or consultant in the UK. It’s what health insurance should be. A franchise is a reciprocal agreement and I wholeheartedly believe in WPA; what they stand for and what they do.

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"The NHS is an emergency service, anything beyond that you’re going to need to be looking at health insurance in this post COVID era. We do work alongside it, and that’s why the premiums aren’t as extortionate as they are in America."

Partner, WPA Healthcare Practice

As a private health insurance provider, how do you work alongside the NHS?

There are a lot of misconceptions about health insurance in the UK. It is nothing like the American healthcare system over here. We are lucky enough to have the NHS so if you do have an emergency, or if you need an intensive care unit, they are the best place to be.

The NHS is an emergency service, anything beyond that you’re going to need to be looking at health insurance in this post COVID era. We do work alongside it, and that’s why the premiums aren’t as extortionate as they are in America.

Every NHS doctor and nurse I’ve met has medical insurance; because they understand it and they know the issues.

The pandemic has increased awareness; demand for health insurance has gone through the roof. But I think a lot of the UK still doesn’t know that it exists here; they think it’s an American concept.

What are the main misconceptions about health insurance?

My whole mission with my business is to try and break down myths and barriers.

Misconceptions are that it costs £200 a month; which it seldom does for anyone under 65. That pre-existing conditions will put your premium up extortionately or that you have big excesses before your treatment; neither of which are true at all.

People also assume that you don’t need to think about health insurance until you’re older, but no-one is immune to cancer, no-one is immune to falling ill; everyone needs it.

How do you address less tangible health concerns like mental health?

We do cover mental health, but it is quite a grey area for insurance, because, generally speaking, mental health isn’t curable, so you cannot put a monetary figure on it as you can for physical conditions.

We cover face-to-face counselling, and we also provide access to an employee assistance programme with managers support, legal support and emotional support.

In essence, employees now expect more from their employers; and medical insurance which includes looking after employees’ mental health is a big part of that.

 

Can you tell us about your volunteering work?

I started to volunteer when I started the business. I do elderly companionship and I’ve been volunteering at the vaccine centres.

I also manage the social media for Age UK. I do it because it just feels good. Everyone should do volunteering; it only takes one or two hours a week to give back.

Who influenced you from a young age?

My parents have been self-employed all their life, so it was inevitable that I would start my own business.

My mum's a fitness instructor, and she has written a book about health and well-being. My Dad was in retail and interior design before he also got into WPA about four years ago in Devon. He gave me a lot of advice when I started, but now he tends to take notes from me.