The Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII's) AGM saw the launch of a campaign to petition government against the forthcoming rise in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) and its "potentially catastrophic impact".
Stuart Scullion, AMII Executive Chairman, said: "If we do not stand up and make our voice heard, there is a worry that Government will continue to nudge IPT up, and this could have a potentially catastrophic impact on our industry.
"I'm concerned that if we don't speak up now, IPT could reach 20 per cent by 2020 if not sooner.
"On the Andrew Marr show recently, Tony Blair recognised the view that the NHS is 'teetering on the brink'. However, there is a complete lack of understanding and appreciation of the value the private healthcare sector adds to the UK economy, let alone how it could support an already overstretched NHS. We should be encouraging usage of the private sector not penalising us at every opportunity.
"We need to fight our corner and lobby anyone and everyone to enlist support in getting the message out".
Also speaking at the AGM, Alex Perry, CEO of Bupa Insurance Ltd, said:
"The independent healthcare sector needs to continue to focus on delivering the best possible outcomes for our customers and the best value for money. We must also speak up for a fairer tax environment.
"IPT on health insurance is unfair and counter-productive. The government's loading of tax onto health insurance has already seen the number of people who pay for health insurance themselves shrink by a third since 1997. This means more than half a million more people fully dependant on an overstretched NHS. Further increases in IPT will push some people to the limit of what they can afford.
"Research we conducted at Bupa found that nearly 60% of the wider public believes that health insurance should be tax free like life or critical illness cover.
"As the challenges for the UK healthcare system become ever more urgent, we need a full and open debate on future funding of healthcare in the UK, including the role that insurance can play in the system."
For the latest information of AMII's IPT Petition, please CLICK HERE to view the IPT Petition pages.