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Should employers offer group private medical insurance to their employees?

Author: Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing

Published: 30 Oct 2023

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As NHS waiting lists reach a record-high, is it time for employers to consider group private medical insurance to support employee health and increase productivity?

The waiting list for planned NHS treatment in England has gone up again to another record high – at 7.75 million (as reported by the BBC). The figure at the end of August was up more than 100,000 on the month before.

Nearly 9,000 people in England are estimated to have been waiting more than 18 months to start their treatment, the data suggests.

All cancer waiting time targets were also missed, and ambulance and A&E waits increased too.

Research from the Independent Healthcare Providers Network highlights that one in five employers are considering offering private medical insurance to their staff. Many employers are concerned the current rising NHS waiting times may result in employees taking long absences or permanently leaving work due to sickness.

It's important to recognise that private medical insurance is not designed to simply replace the NHS, rather to complement it. But at a time when waiting lists show little signs of abating and people face ongoing uncertainty about when their treatment and procedures will take place, offering private healthcare as an employee benefit is a trend we expect to see continue.

What are the benefits of Group Private Medical Insurance?

Group Private Medical Insurance, taken out by the business, is designed to provide valuable support for your employees and your business by complementing the services offered by the NHS. It enables your employees to quickly see a specialist of their choice, receive treatment at a time and place to suit them which means they should be able to return to work sooner therefore minimising any disruption to your business.

Benefits to employers

  • Sends an unequivocal message that the health and wellbeing of your employees is a priority
  • Helps to minimise sickness absence
  • Earlier returns to the workplace can help ease any necessary workload reallocation
  • Minimise disruption to your business and to other employees
  • Will help to keep employees happier, healthier and more productive
  • Nurtures loyalty and attracts top talent
  • Costs can be treated as a bona-fide business expense

Benefits to your employees

  • Immediate access to treatment when they need it most
  • Convenience and peace of mind – treatment can be planned to suit busy lifestyles and commitments
  • Specialist mental health services – many Private Medical Insurance policies can provide mental health support services quickly and discreetly
  • Access to virtual GPs – many insurers offer a 24-hour virtual service, providing an initial assessment in the comfort of your own home
  • They can join the scheme on a Medical History Disregarded (MHD) basis so pre-existing conditions may be covered from as few as one employee

For many businesses, there is a real opportunity to better engage employees by investing in their health and wellbeing and where private medical insurance may not be an affordable option, cash plans and virtual GP services offer cost-effective alternatives.

How we can help

Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing is an award-winning employee benefits consultancy and a member rewards partner of ICAEW. We have a specialist team who work with clients of all sizes – both UK and globally – to provide dedicated employee benefits and wellbeing consultancy.

We believe that a one-size-fits-all strategy simply doesn't work when it comes to employee benefits. Each client's organisation is unique, with its own distinct culture, workforce, and financial considerations. That's why we'll take the time to really understand our client's business and objectives, their employee demographics, and budget considerations.

Get in touch

To find out more about how we can work together, contact Katy Lyles at katy.lyles@howdengroup.com or on 0203 553 8340.

Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing Limited is part of the Howden Group. Registered in England and Wales under company number 2248238, with its registered office at One Creechurch Place, London EC3A 5AF. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.