A Guide to Group Health Insurance
What You Need to Know
- According to the CIPD, the average UK worker takes 7.7 sick days per year, costing their employer £600. Group health insurance can help reduce this.
- Businesses both large and small are able to make use of group health insurance, though larger firms may enjoy more flexibility in their cover.
- Providing group health insurance can also help companies attract and retain top talent.
- Most major insurers also offer comprehensive support packages geared towards helping firms keep their workforces in good health.
- A range of policies are available, with customers able to choose from different levels of cover and even levels of excess.
- The ‘Six Week Option’ covers the cost of treatment that is not immediately available on the NHS. This is much more affordable than standard cover.
What is Group Health Insurance?
Group health insurance is quite simply an insurance policy that covers a group of people, usually the employees of a common employer.
In general, premiums for each individual member of a group scheme are the same, regardless of their age or medical background.
According to UK Healthcare, group health insurance policies are becoming increasingly popular in the UK as businesses look to reduce the cost of absenteeism while also meeting their duty of care responsibilities.
Who Can Make Use of Group Health Insurance?
Businesses of all sizes are able to make use of group health insurance policies, though the levels of flexibility they are able to enjoy may vary according to their size and the cost of their premiums.
AXA PPP offers group health insurance for both small and large businesses. That is, it offers specially-tailored policies for groups of under 15 individuals, those with between 15 and 75 and those with more than 75.
Meanwhile, Aviva’s Optimum healthcare is specially-designed for companies looking to cover a group of 250 or more, though the insurer does offer other packages for smaller groups. Briggs & Butler, on the other hand, provide packages for both SMEs and the self-employed.
A range of policies, all with varied options, are available to businesses and other groups, meaning it’s wise to work with a specialist consultant to work out factors such as budget, the level of cover desired and the number of people to be included. The main variants available are:
- Amount of Cover
Policies can either be all-inclusive, covering both diagnosis and treatment, or else limited.
For instance, Aviva offers three different levels of cover with its Optimum product, with customers able to save as much as 70 per cent by opting for the lowest level, though this only covers initial consultations and diagnosis but not ongoing treatment.
At the other end of the spectrum, policies can cover everything from diagnosis right through to the completion of a course of treatment, even for psychiatric conditions or cancer.
- ‘Different excess amounts
Group healthcare insurance policies can also come with a range of excess options.
AXA PPP, for example, offers excess levels of £100, £200 and £500, though once this has been paid, all extra costs are covered by the employer for the rest of the scheme year.
- ‘Six Week Option’
This options allows an employer to direct a member of their workforce to the NHS, if the treatment they need can be provided within six weeks.
Opting for this can enable employers to enjoy a significant saving on their annual premium, while still giving an employee the ability to go private if the NHS can’t offer prompt treatment.
Several insurers offer this option or a variant on it, allowing their customers to save money while also looking after their employers’ wellbeing.
As well as covering the cost of treatment, insurers can also offer more proactive help in preventing illness among employees. Pru Health, for example, offers its members access to its Vitality programme, designed to encourage healthy living, such as by giving employees the support they need to lose weight, quit smoking or exercise more.
Similarly, Aviva’s Healthier Solutions initiative gives members of group health insurance schemes discounted access to gyms and access to an online healthy-living programme.
Additionally, employers may pay extra to get the costs of psychiatric treatment for their employees covered, while schemes can also be extended to cover family members, though this costs extra.
Advantages of Group Health Insurance
Benefits to Employers
- Offering group health insurance can both help attract new talent and also retain existing employees.
- Speedy access to healthcare as well as the healthy living tips offered by insurers can reduce absence through sickness, thereby increasing productivity and boosting staff morale.
- Offering healthcare can help a business meet its ‘duty of care’ as an employer, thereby guarding against possible litigation.
- Group health insurance schemes are easy to run and affordable. Under ‘Recorded Membership’ schemes, claims are made directly to the insurance provider, rather than to the employer. Additionally, premiums can be deducted directly from an employee’s pay or even paid in full by the employer, again reducing any hassle.
- In comparison to the money that might be saved through reduced absence and enhanced productivity, the cost of group health insurance is attractive. For instance, UK Healthcare offers businesses policies for as little as £1 per employee per week.
Benefits to Employees
- Near-immediate access to comprehensive, local health care. AXA PP customers, for example, have access to the insurer’s network of more than 250 hospitals and 1,500 specialists’ right across the UK. Likewise, Aviva boasts of access to 450 private hospitals and clinics.
- Access to expert information and support, including for specific conditions such as stress, diabetes and even cancer.
How to get Group Health Insurance
Most of the major insurers offer group health insurance and can be contacted directly. For smaller firms, it may be possible to get a quote online. AXA PPP, for example, offers free online quotes for businesses with 15 or fewer employees.
However, for larger groups, employers will likely have to speak directly with a specialist.
Aviva, Pru Health and AXA PPP all have specialist teams to deal with group insurance enquiries, with their contact details available online. Once they have details such as the number of people a policy is needed to cover, as well as how comprehensive the cover should be, they will be able to provide a comprehensive quote, complete with all the various options available.
- If you want your own personal health insurance policy you can reduce your premiums by keeping in shape. Read our guide to losing weight through exercise to find out more.
- Find out more about your sick pay rights on the government’s website.