Take control of your employees’ healthcare needs

A team of employees work in a brightly lit open plan office

A healthy, happy employee is a productive one. But when illness or injury strikes it not only impacts the individual affected, but their employer too. Whether it’s due to absence, or an employee’s mind not being on their job due to pain, worry or stress, the more you can do to help support them in regaining their health quickly, the better it is for you all.


Whilst the UK’s National Health Service is an institution much envied by many other countries around the world, it’s impossible to ignore reported headlines that it is under considerable strain. Less than half of NHS trusts met the 18-week waiting time standard for elective treatment, and only 38% met the 62 day standard from referral to treatment for cancer patients.

To help combat these issues, there are a number of alternative healthcare options available which can be extremely effective when offered as an employee benefit. These include:


Private Medical Insurance (PMI)

Private Medical Insurance provides quick access for your employees to leading UK medical care and hospitals. Subject to pre-approval and authorisation by the insurer the policy meets the costs, up to specified cover limits, for private treatment and consultations (less any policy excess that might apply). 

PMI has evolved in recent years so that policy design compliments services provided by the NHS rather than acting as a replacement. For example, many policies include access to a Private GP so that an initial period of worry from feeling unwell and waiting to see a GP is eliminated and your employee can be referred to a specialist, if required, more quickly. Some medical policies can also provide access to specialists for a second opinion and in some cases will offer access to the most expensive cancer drugs.  However, private medical insurance is not intended to replace accident & emergency treatment, which remains within the province of the NHS.

For employers, PMI is a popular and valued benefit that can help employers support workplace wellbeing and manage employee absence more effectively, allowing staff access to quicker diagnosis and treatment.

Access to private healthcare doesn’t come for free, but there are ways to help keep the cost down. Options include considering a scheme that offers full inpatient treatment but with more limited outpatient care, and no extras. Alternatively, you could opt for a voluntary excess on claims, similar to car insurance, which reduces premiums without reducing the underlying scope of cover. Another option is to take out a policy that will meet the cost of treatments for your employees but only where the NHS waiting list for their condition is more than six weeks.


Health cash plans

Health cash plans differ from private medical insurance because these are designed to reduce out-of-pocket everyday health expenses.

Employees can get back 100% of the cost of routine healthcare appointments, up to a pre-defined limit. Your employees simply pay the bill on the day and claim the cash back. Cover can include:

  • Maternity or adoption expenses
  • Dental and optical care
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Osteopathy
  • Health Screening
  • Physiotherapy
  • Outpatient consultations
  • Diagnostic scans

For employers, cash plans are a valuable benefit, optimising treatment speed and minimising cost. With premiums typically 90% lower than PMI, health cash plans are an affordable alternative for some employers. 


Virtual GPs

Virtual GPs are becoming a popular choice as they provide quick and easy access to a doctor. Via the service, you can speak to a GP by phone or face to face via a webcam. In most cases, you can access it any time and from anywhere in the world.

You can typically use the service for:

  • Diagnosis
  • Medical advice
  • Reassurance
  • A second opinion
  • Private prescriptions

For employers, virtual GPs are a cost-effective benefit and offer employees quick and convenient access to a doctor when they need it most, helping them to get back to their best faster. And any-time appointments can help businesses to better manage workplace absence and boost productivity. 


Find out more 

To find out more about the range of healthcare benefits available and how they could work for you, please speak to a member of the award-winning Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing team on 0203 327 5700 or email [email protected]

Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing Limited is part of the Hyperion Insurance 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. Not all products are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


A photo of Richard Gould

Richard Gould

Director of Commercial, Employee Benefits & Wellbeing

Find out more about our Employee Benefits & Wellbeing consultancy