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How to choose the best group health insurance for your team

21st September 2023

With the competitive job market within the UK, employers are looking for ways in which they can offer a quality employee benefits package which will help support the business by attracting and retaining quality employees.

When thinking about this, the best place to start is to look at what employees will value, which can be achieved by looking at social environment.  Within the UK the news keeps mentioning the increased pressures on the NHS, which are resulting in increased waiting times for appointments and operations.  A direct result of this is people are starting to look at healthcare as a more attractive employee benefit for them and their families.  A company that offers a competitive healthcare benefit such as private medical insurance, cash plans and group dental insurance, will therefore be seen as a more attractive employer than their competitors.

Providing robust employee health coverage is not only an essential benefit from an employee perspective, but also a strategic move to attract and retain top talent.  As a UK employer looking at recruitment, navigating the intricacies of benefit planning, administration of benefits, and how to select the right benefit package, is crucial.  In this article we aim to look at some of the key factors to consider when selecting the best health insurance policies for your employees.

What is group health insurance?

Group health insurance is quite often looked at as a vital component of workplace benefits for senior or key employees.  It provides medical insurance for employees at a more cost-effective approach than arranging it as an individual.  There are two main approaches to pricing these policies: –

Age rated premiums: Employees premiums are based on their age and the claims experience of the employer’s policy.  Typically this approach is used for policies with less than 100 employees.

Corporate / Flat rated: There is a set pricing for those under 65 years of age and another set pricing for those over 65 years of age.  Typically this approach is used for policies with more than 100 employees.

It is therefore important to note that the size of your scheme will impact how the insurer calculates the premiums of your policy.

Do I need to get a PMI or healthcare policy? How can I assess my teams needs?

These are great questions to be thinking about, and before you jump into benefit selection you might want to speak with your team first to see if they want private medical insurance.  Some companies will choose to engage with their workforce by using an assessment on the health needs of employees, but generally most employees will have similar basic needs such as having their teeth checked regularly, optician appointments, flu jabs etc.  You may also want to consider the level of staff you implement healthcare policies for and how comprehensive each policy is.  Also remember that most healthcare policies will be considered as a P11D / benefit in kind.

You may want to think about whether your business could operate successfully if a key member of staff was waiting for surgery or a hospital appointment for a prolonged period of time.  For most businesses the answer to this is no, so a great way to manage this risk is to provide a mechanism / benefit that helps them to get treatment in a timely manner therefore meaning a speedier recovery.  There are numerous examples of where a director or key salesperson has had to have surgery and would have been out of action for 6 or more months in the year, but their PMI policy has meant they could be treated and back to work within a month or so.

What healthcare policies are available to my workforce?

There are many different policies available that you could offer to your workforce.  Examples of some of the most popular are outlined below, but bear in mind that this is by no means exhaustive.

Cash Plans:
A Cash Plan is a dynamic and adaptable health insurance solution that offers employees a range of cashback benefits for various medical expenses.  This historic insurance policy was previously known as a Hospital Saturday Fund and offers cash pots for employees to claim back the cost of daily healthcare, such as routine optical and dental check-ups, right up to specialist consultations.  This benefit ensures that your employees can access essential healthcare services without bearing the full brunt of associated costs.  A great example of where this can be a valuable resource is with quick access to physiotherapy without GP referral.  If someone had injured themselves and couldn’t work, they could seek treatment to help them return to work quicker.  By providing financial assistance for medical treatments, prescriptions, and wellness programs, a Cash Plan not only nurtures employee health, but also bolsters their financial resilience, helping your workforce be happier and healthier.

Private Medical Insurance (PMI):
Private Medical Insurance is often revered as the focus for a healthcare offering.  It offers a realm of advantages that extend beyond that of a Cash Plan.  Designed to treat acute conditions (something that responds quickly to medical intervention), PMI is quite often a highly sought after benefit which only demonstrates its true value when it helps an employee return to fit health.  In some situations, this can literally be lifesaving!  Employees can gain expedited access to an extensive network of esteemed medical professionals, ensuring timely diagnoses and treatments, some of which are not available on the NHS.  With swifter recovery times and personalised care, PMI acts as a beacon of reassurance during health-related challenges.  By implementing a PMI policy, you can cultivate a culture that demonstrates a true dedication to your employees’ physical and emotional well-being.

Group Dental Policies:
Group Dental policies are growing in demand.  As it becomes more difficult to register with a dentist, a Group Dental Policy adds an extra layer of assurance to your team and can help you stand out from the competition.  This benefit embraces preventive dental care, covering routine check-ups, cleanings, and even more extensive procedures like fillings and extractions. In some cases, they can also cover cosmetic benefits such as whitening.  As an employer, by supporting dental health, you’re not only promoting oral well-being but also directly contributing to the overall physical health of your team – not to mention their smile – creating a happier and healthier workforce.

Virtual GP:
A low cost but high valued benefits can also be the Virtual GP.  These are often included as part of an employee benefit policy and can add a huge value to your team, particularly those who may be more mobile and not office based.  This benefit typically gives the employee and their family the ability to speak to a GP anywhere and in a timely manner, meaning that they can still seek medical advice for their symptoms, even if they can’t get in to see their GP.  Although virtual, these GPs are usually able to issue private prescriptions, and in some cases get them delivered too.

When you do decide to build your benefits, you will need to consider how you want the policy to be used and accessed.  There can be subtle differences between providers, from the perks they offer such as Vitality’s rewards, to the level of excess you can put on a policy.  You will also need to consider the design of the policy, for example with PMI you can restrict elements of the coverage, such as the hospitals that employees can seek treatment from, the outpatient level, or the excess.  There are pros and cons to the design of the policy, so if in doubt speak with an expert who can provide advice.

Ultimately, a well-structured package should encompass essential coverage for your team and use clear and concise communications so they can understand the benefit, meaning you as the employer can get the best return on your investment.

Should I go direct, or should I work with an Employee Benefits Brokerage?

Navigating the intricate realm of benefit administration can be daunting.  Most PMI providers have a rule that they will not dual price (offer two different rates for the same company policy).  This means that there is an inbuilt commission in the policy and there is usually little or no price difference if you go through a broker.

If you choose to appoint a broker, you will have less work to do, as a quality broker will approach the market on your behalf and provide benchmarks where appropriate.  This helps streamline your process.  These experts offer guidance in benefit planning, negotiate with insurance providers, and handle the administration of benefits, ensuring a seamless experience for both employers and employees.

It is usually much simpler to use a broker and they will support your business, meaning less work for you each renewal.


Case Study

Company: ABC Limited

Industry: Technology Solutions

Location: London, United Kingdom

ABC Limited operates within in the technology solutions sector.  Their management has recognised the need to elevate their employee benefits package to attract top talent and enhance employee retention, as their competitors are trying to poach key staff.  With a diverse workforce of tech professionals, the company aimed to address their employees’ varying health needs and provide a comprehensive solution that would promote well-being and job satisfaction.

The company’s existing benefits package lacked a robust health insurance offering.  Employees were concerned about medical treatment times should they develop a condition.  This had an impact on retention, as staff were looking for higher salaries to match competitors and so they could afford their own PMI policy.  ABC Limited recognised the need to revamp their benefit planning and introduce a comprehensive group health insurance plan that would resonate with their tech-savvy workforce.

Working closely with an experienced employee benefits brokerage, ABC Limited embarked on a journey to design a tailor-made group health insurance plan that aligned with their employees’ needs and expectations.

The HR team conducted surveys and focus group discussions to gauge employees’ preferences and health care requirements.  This data-driven approach allowed them to identify key areas of focus for the new plan, that matched employee needs.

Collaborating with the benefits brokerage, ABC Limited designed a group health insurance plan that offered comprehensive coverage which also engaged staff to interact with the policy.

The benefits brokerage helped ABC Limited select an insurance provider with an extensive network of healthcare professionals and facilities across the UK appropriate to their employees’ geographical locations.  This ensured that employees had easy access to quality care, regardless of their location.

While striving for comprehensive coverage, the company also focused on managing costs.  Through strategic benefit planning and negotiation, the broker managed to secure a plan that balanced affordability and robust coverage.

The introduction of the comprehensive group health insurance plan brought about transformative outcomes for ABC Limited and its employees:

  • Enhanced Well-being: Employees felt more secure about their health and well-being, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced stress levels.
  • Talent Attraction and Retention: The new benefit package positioned ABC Limited as an employer of choice within the competitive technology sector.  It played a significant role in attracting talent and retaining experienced professionals.
  • Positive Organisational Culture: The company’s commitment to employee well-being fostered a positive organisational culture and strengthened employee loyalty.
  • Reduced Turnover: Employee turnover rates decreased noticeably, leading to cost savings associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training.

The case of ABC Limited underscores the transformative power of comprehensive group health insurance within the context of employee benefits.  By engaging in strategic benefit planning, leveraging the expertise of an employee benefits brokerage, and transparently communicating with employees, ABC Limited achieved improvements in employee well-being, satisfaction, and organisational success.  This case study serves as an example for UK employers looking to enhance their benefit packages and create a positive impact on their workforce.

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