Preventative Healthcare Employee Benefits: What Employers Need to Know

Preventative healthcare benefits are becoming essential to offer to your employees. But what are they, and why do we need to change our benefits packages to include them? We'll walk you through why healthcare intervention isn't enough, and what you can offer to your team to take care of their whole health picture.

Benefits 101

Mar 13, 2024 ⋅ 4 min read

When it comes to healthcare benefits, employers are making one common mistake: only offering healthcare intervention, and not offering preventive benefits.

But what are preventative healthcare benefits? And how can they promote your team’s overall wellbeing?

In this blog, we’ll walk you through the current healthcare landscape and why offering preventative healthcare benefits is essential for your company.

Let’s dive in!

The state of healthcare 

By 2030, it’s estimated that early onset cancer rates will climb by 31%. That’s a steep climb in poor health, especially when you consider that we spend 20 times more on healthcare intervention than we do on preventative healthcare.

But if we know that poor health is on the rise, why don’t employers focus on benefits that can help prevent health concerns before they crop up?

Employers are figuring out how to grapple with a rapidly changing healthcare landscape. There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Medical inflation on the rise globally
  • Long wait times for treatments as a result of Covid-19 backlog
  • Medical systems in crisis
  • Rising insurance premiums

These factors have consequences on companies and their teams, including a jump in absenteeism and a loss of productivity for employees who have a harder time getting back into the swing of things after illness (which, in turn, can mean lower performance). Plus, rising insurance rates mean higher costs for employers looking to get their employees back on their feet more quickly.

But focusing on healthcare intervention has meant that employers have been stuck in a loop of treating the symptoms of the problem rather than the cause. Despite rapidly advancing healthcare technology, employers still have ways to go in how they treat their employees’ wellbeing in their benefits packages.

Why your company should think about preventative healthcare in benefits

Preventative healthcare benefits are more cost-effective than you might think.

In fact, in 2011 ,the National Institute Clinical Excellence in Health and Care reported that public healthcare preventative measures, such as programs to quit smoking, were more cost-saving than other methods of treatment.

Carl Chapman, Head of Marketplace here at Ben, suggests that ill-health is like an overflowing bathtub.

Think of it this way: employee poor health is filling up the tub, and in an effort to respond to a potential flood quickly, employers target the problem by spending on intricate methods to bail out the water, rather than concentrating on turning off the tap.

But the costs of healthcare intervention (bailing out the water) can be steep. So it’s in employers’ best interests to stop the flow of water first by offering more preventative healthcare measures in their benefits offerings. Think: mental health support, early health screening, and gym discounts.

Building a preventative healthcare benefits package

Employers will have to think differently than they have in the past about their benefits offerings to build a package that will really work for their team’s health. While healthcare intervention benefits like private medical insurance can help employees when health issues arise, we need to think beyond the usual solutions.

Engaging in regular physical activity can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and colon cancer by 50%, and decrease the chances of heart disease and stroke by 35%. Providing your employees with gym memberships and other fitness-related benefits is a great first step — but it's important to recognise that one approach won't suit everyone. 

Health screening, for example, is a benefit employers might not think to offer, but can be highly effective in preventing health concerns from developing further. For instance, early diagnosis of breast cancer significantly improves the chances of survival. With nearly everyone surviving if caught early, it’s a stark contrast to those who are diagnosed at the latest stage, who have a 30% survival rate.

Final thoughts

With just 5% of the UK's private healthcare spending allocated to preventive measures, it's important to reflect on how our benefits packages reflect this pattern, especially as employers are increasing their benefits spending. What portion of your healthcare benefits is dedicated to alleviating the symptoms of health issues, and how much is aimed at preventing your employees from falling ill in the first place?

Employers need to adopt a more innovative approach to healthcare benefits, focusing on flexible options that accommodate the varied healthcare needs of their team. Otherwise, employers are just ignoring turning off the tap in favour of drying the floor.

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