Revealed: Here’s why you should be offering private medical insurance to employees

PMI is no longer a 'nice to have', and rather a priority. private health insurance helps to provide that peace of mind that our finances will at least be taken care of if life doesn’t go to plan. Discover the benefits to your employees – as well as your business – in this blog.

Private Medical Insurance

⋅ min read

Private medical insurance (PMI) is no longer just a ‘nice to have’, with many companies now considering it a top priority when building their employee benefits packages. In fact, private healthcare was recently ranked as the most sought after employee benefit

While we all hope we won’t become ill, private health insurance helps to provide that peace of mind that our finances will at least be taken care of if life doesn’t go to plan. Discover the benefits to your employees – as well as your business – in this blog.

What is PMI?

Private medical insurance is designed to pay for some (or all) of your medical bills if you're treated privately. It gives you a choice over the level of care you receive – the cover might include hospital admission, surgery, diagnostic tests, physiotherapy and nursing care, to name a few. You can often access services and cancer drugs that aren’t always available on the NHS. Plus, you can choose from a range of premiums to suit your needs. For example, you can stipulate the amount you’d be willing to contribute towards the cost of treatment (known as the “excess”). 

It’s important to note that PMI usually only applies to acute conditions that present themselves after your policy begins. So if you’ve suffered from arthritis for years, for instance, you probably won’t be able to claim on your insurance. If you want to be covered for pre-existing medical conditions, you might have to pay a premium.

What are the benefits to employees?

Quicker access to care 

Long waiting times have long been an issue for the NHS, with over 3 million people waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment as of April 2023. Access to private medical insurance gives you the greenlight to skip lengthy NHS queues and get the treatment you need faster.

Virtual GP services

Many private health insurance providers now offer virtual GP services to help people get a diagnosis or referral quicker. While many people prefer to be seen in-person, virtual appointments can be a life-saver for those with low mobility or particularly hectic work schedules. Plus, it frees up more time for doctors to tend to more patients each day.

Earlier diagnosis 

If you have private health insurance and a GP thinks you need to see a specialist or consultant, they can refer you. Being seen faster means you’re more likely to be diagnosed (and therefore treated) sooner.

Some providers offer mental health support

It’s very common for insurance providers to offer mental health support, as mental ailments are considered just as important as physical issues. In fact, Bupa recently launched a ground-breaking mental health proposition for businesses, the Workplace Mental Health Advantage. It offers advanced data analytics to help businesses understand the impact of mental health, as well as digital access to a mental health therapist within 10 days for all members.

Health insurance providers are seeing more companies investing in mental health cover through PMI in recent years. Similarly, employee uptake in mental health support via their PMI plans is on the up. This is most likely a result of the cost of living crisis putting additional strain on employee mental health, meaning they’re more likely to seek out employers who offer health insurance to ease their worries. 

Access to a wider range of drugs and treatments 

One of the key benefits of PMI is that as a patient, you’ll get access to a wider range of drugs and treatments than you might on the NHS. This could mean your treatment will be more tailored to, and therefore better for, your condition. You’re also more likely to be able to get experimental treatment and drugs privately, as private clinics do not need to wait for full clinical trialling to be complete.

More choice when it comes to treatment

If you have private medical insurance, you’re more likely to have control over the type of treatment you receive and when it’s carried out. For example, if you want to be treated in a hospital close to home, that might be easier through private insurance than on the NHS where hospital beds and staff are limited.

Private hospital room

Paying a higher price will also get you the added extras, like the privacy of an en suite room and home amenities, such as a TV. You’ll also have free WiFi, meals adapted for your dietary requirements and even toiletries, so there are fewer things for you to worry about.

Enhanced cancer care

This is often a key reason for people seeking private medical cover. In the UK, patients can wait up to two months before they start receiving treatment, which can feel endless. Cancer cover usually includes things like diagnostic tests and private consultations as well as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and aftercare. Some insurers will even pay for pricier treatments or new drugs, plus you’ll have a wider choice of hospitals to receive treatment in.

Why’s it good for your business?

Aside from having healthier employees, which is beneficial for you in the long-run as you’re likely to have fewer people off on sick leave, PMI offers many other advantages. 

Firstly, it can have a big impact on employer branding, as you’ll be viewed as a business that genuinely cares about its people and supports them through thick and thin. This can help you stay competitive and attract top talent – in such a saturated job market, candidates are more likely to opt for a workplace with a strong and caring employer brand. 

Retaining employees, and keeping engagement levels high, is another benefit. Nearly half a million people took out private medical care in 2022, so if you’re willing to cover the cost as an employer, that’s likely to be a driver in encouraging employees to stay put and appreciate what they’ve got. This is particularly true for individuals who are able to add family members to their insurance policy, giving more of their loved ones peace of mind.

Over time, the investment you make in private medical insurance for your workforce is sure to be money well spent as your employees continue to be happy, healthy and stress-free. Think of it as a short-term pain in terms of costs, in exchange for a long-term gain. Our global benefits benchmarking survey 2023 found that 42% of companies offer PMI – will you be one of them next year?

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