The £2.2bn health insurance market is ripe for growth after the annual Swiss Re Life & Health Insurance UK report found nearly half of those surveyed said “important needs” were not met by the National Health Service.

More than 25% said the NHS was “not at all adequate”.

“Despite much goodwill towards the NHS there is clearly a feeling that people can no longer rely on it,” the report stated.

But the nanny-state mentality is not fading – the trend to self-reliance was reversed for income protection insurance and long-term care.

According to the report, fewer people than last year agreed they should be responsible for planning for income if unable to work or for nursing care for the very old.

The survey also found that people's own confidence in selecting the right health insurance grows in relation to increasing income levels.

Nearly 80% of those earning more than £30,000 are confident in their ability compared with less than 40% of those earning under £5,000.

When respondents were asked what services they would most value from a health insurer, regular health checks proved of greatest interest but there was also support for the concept of a personal adviser to explain options and arrange care if you fall ill.

It reflects a need for a “joined-up” health and welfare provision that provides a complete service rather than simply providing cash.

Use of the internet by customers was found not to have changed over the year. The real barrier to buying through

the internet was found to be the design and functionality of company sites and portals.