The changing face of health plans

The need for employees to find a way to cover healthcare costs is certainly not a new problem. Before the NHS, workers had to find a way to provide for themselves and their families in times of sickness and ill health. It was out of this necessity that the idea of health cash plans was originally formulated.

In 1948, the launch of the NHS meant that worries over paying for GP visits, operations and hospital care were largely taken away. However, rather than heralding the death of the health cash plan, providers were able to evolve to provide additional support during hospital stays and periods of ill health.

In more recent times, as charges for optical care, dental treatment, physiotherapy and prescriptions have crept back in, health cash plans found a new role to play in covering the cost of everyday healthcare.

Far from experiencing a decline, company paid health cash plans experienced a surge between 2007 and 2014, fuelled largely by the changing health cash plan product.

New benefits and services

Rather than stand still, the industry has continued to evolve to cover an ever increasing range of health benefits and preventative services. These include:

  • Employee assistance and face to face counselling solutions
  • Virtual 24/7 GP surgeries via phone or webcam  
  • Private prescription services
  • 24/7 counselling and support helplines
  • Personal accident protection
  • One-off maternity payments
  • Cover for alternative therapies
  • Online health assessments and personal coaching tools
  • Specialist consultations and home care after a hospital stay
  • Rewards with great deals, discounts and cash back

New benefits and services are being added all the time to add extra value, prevent sickness and improve health and wellbeing. It’s an unprecedented time of innovation for health cash plans with employers and individuals enjoying more choice than ever before.

Health cash plans & PMI

One of the big developments over the last few years has been the increase in the number of health cash plans providing cover for PMI excess payments.

Whereas traditionally, health cash plans were seen as a solution primarily for blue-collar workers, employers can now dovetail their PMI provision with a health cash plan scheme to enhance employee engagement at all levels.

Focus on health & wellbeing

It has always been a mark of a good employer that they have adopted a caring role in looking after the health of their employees. However, now more than ever, employers are realising that improving the health and wellbeing of staff is not just a duty of care, but can help to reduce absenteeism and improve morale and productivity.

Health cash plans are well positioned to play a key role in this process, helping to align affordable healthcare delivery with improved health and wellbeing.

Tailored & flexible health cash plans

The introduction of auto enrolment for pensions has led to more organisations reviewing their wider flexible benefits. Many are looking for health cash plans that offer optional upgrades and can fit on their flexible benefits platforms or voluntary benefits schemes.

Others are looking for plans that can fit around their budget and meet the specific needs of their employees and business. Standard off the shelf solutions are no longer the norm for medium to larger enterprises. More employers now want to pick and choose their own health benefits and services with tailored pricing and terms and conditions.

The future

There’s a real desire for more innovative solutions as employers want to improve their duty of care and look after the health and wellbeing of their employees. Health cash plans are once again rising to the challenge and continually evolving to meet the changing needs of employers and employees. What’s next? Watch this space!

Philip Wood is executive director of sales and marketing at Health Shield.

This article was provided by Health Shield.





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