How to ensure quality in your healthcare package

Eloise Barker · 26 Nov

If you’re thinking of setting up a health insurance package for your employees, first off: props to you. It’s a great perk, but not something that many UK companies offer. But that could be about to change.

Health insurance: first off – do you have any? The chances are if you’re running a small or medium company, and it’s UK-based, then we reckon that you don’t.

Don’t freak out about our amazing mind-reading powers just yet – it’s just true that roughly less than 10% of people in the UK have medical insurance – and even fewer have insurance that’s provided by their place of work.

This means that if you’re one of the few companies thinking of setting up health insurance, then you’re immediately going to look very attractive to prospective employees. It’s a major benefit that not many people offer. Here's why it's great for you and your employees:

Because private health care generally means less waiting lists (and more being waited on, in some fancier hospitals), having medical insurance can slice your employee’s sick days – nicely whittling down absenteeism in the process.

Having private health care in place actively encourages employees to seek treatment – so those niggling physio problems and weird rashes can get cleared up quicker, meaning happier, healthier, and less stressed colleagues. What’s more, private health cover can also include drugs and treatments that are not yet available on the NHS.

Having this kind of valuable perk (medical health insurance is no pool table, but still...) can, in turn, help your current employees feel valued in their place of work. You’ll get better employee retention, employee morale, and, of course – improved employee wellness, both physical and mental.

Private health care by companies is often more generous than policies for individuals. For example, company health insurance may be able to cover pre-existing conditions – this difference can make your company seem very attractive to employees, even if they have their own insurance.

What’s not to like?

Well, cost. Cost, and the often frustratingly complicated administrative burden make companies reluctant to set up healthcare packages. However, many who do find that the perks far outweigh the negatives.

PMI

PMI (Private Medical Insurance) costs upwards of a thousand pounds per employee per year. You’ll get perks like an app for your employees which helps them book appointments or track their prescriptions. You may also get gym memberships for staff, and access to other health initiatives.

Health cash plans

Health cash plans are totally different from Private Medical Insurance. Instead of covering your staff for unforeseen events, they allow staff to claim back some of the cost of routine healthcare expenses like dental work, eye tests, or prescription charges. They don’t offer the same level of cover as a full health insurance package but are significantly cheaper.

What’s in a healthcare package?

When you arrange private medical insurance, you are usually offered a nice package. Calm down a moment – a healthcare package is the bundle of benefits you’ll receive. These vary from supplier to supplier, but most have a whole shiny list of treatments – covered, or partially covered by the insurance – and a few that come at a premium. There are also a few treatments that you’ll be hard-pressed to find covered by most well-known insurers.

Most packages will include

Acute conditions

Mental health

Packages might include (or offer at an extra cost)

Diagnostic tests

Outpatient treatment Therapy – like physiotherapy

Occupational health

Cancer care

Most packages won’t include

Chronic illness

Pregnancy

Drug Abuse

Hazardous activities

Dental services

Cosmetic treatments

Deliberate injuries

Organ transplant

Gender reassignment

Types of package

Not only do different health insurance packages differ in what they cover, but they might also vary in the following ways:

The level of treatment

Healthcare packages might cover a treatment, but only for a set timeframe. For example, cancer. Cancer – one of the most expensive conditions to treat – may not be covered, might only be covered up to diagnosis, or covered for only a set amount of time’s worth of treatment.

Where treatment is accessed

Some packages will include a choice of hospital – from a fancy clinic on Harley Street to your local NHS hospital, whilst others do not.

How much you contribute towards treatment

Some packages may include an excess for treatments, which the company, or the employee pays.

Who is covered, and how

Health care packages can be scaled up so that your longer-serving members of staff unlock more benefits than your new starters – in the same way that longer serving members of staff can accrue holiday leave. Some insurers will also cover the families of your employees – their spouses and their child dependents up to a certain age, which can be a great perk if your employees like their families.

What about disabled staff?

The law requires that health insurance companies be fair and reasonable about how they cover treatment that is needed because of a disability. It’s important that staff declare all pre-existing conditions at the outset, to make sure full coverage is provided where available.

Quality vs Price

As you shop around you’ll realise the big truth about healthcare – it’s the same truth about most purchasing decisions – if you want it cheap, you may have to sacrifice quality.

If you want quality, it might not come cheap. There are some newer packages that might have found the sweet spot between both… but more on that later…

Traditional insurance providers have huge customer bases. Bupa has 32 million customers. Aviva has 33 million. These companies don’t need competitive rates – and insurance companies also tend to put up their costs by a few percentage points every year.

If you go with a cheaper deal, you might need to read the small print carefully to find out what’s not included. Going for a higher level no claims discount can help with the cost.

You could consider paying an excess – e.g. £100 to £250 of any treatment, or adding outpatient limits from e.g. £1,000 to £2,000 – or getting your employees to pay their own excess.

Comparison sites

Oh, if only companies could just browse comparethemarket.com! Whilst there are some comparison sites around, you’re going to need to fill out a fair few forms to get quotes for your company.

Since insuring 250+ people is more complicated (and expensive) than insuring five people, getting a quote will probably involve getting on the phone. However, newer companies have been finding ways to reduce the administration.

The top things to consider when choosing your insurance package:

  • How much am I willing to pay? And do I want my employees to contribute?
  • Do I want one policy for all? Or do I want to differentiate for higher management?
  • Do I like paperwork? Or do I want the simplest plan possible?
  • Do I want to include families? Can my employees' children be on my plan?

How Perkbox can help:

Perkbox is launching Perkbox Medical – its own brand of medical insurance. Available for just a few pounds a month, easy to set up, and entirely digital, it's a brand new product that's out to cause some 'healthy disruption' to the traditional health insurance scene.

Offering Skype appointments with UK-trained GPs, quick prescriptions and everything from physiotherapy to counselling, it aims to be useful and easy to set up. 

How is it such good value? Well, Perkbox Medical is a partial medical cover. It's carefully curated to include the bits of medical insurance that your employees are most likely to need, without the bloat of a load of expensive treatments that you don't need to cover. 

Looking to take care of your employees, both physically and mentally? Why not download our brochure and find out everything there is to know about being an employer of choice: 

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