Employee health screening lets you assess your staff's overall health and wellbeing. There may also be specific health requirements that your team needs to meet to carry out their work safely. For example, if your business involves a lot of physical work, you'll likely want to check that employees are fit enough. Employee health screening also helps you monitor the impact of any health risks associated with your work, such as exposure to noise, vibrating tools, or a high-stress environment.
You may have an occupational health team to carry out health assessments. Alternatively, you can access these by taking out health insurance.
When your occupational health team conducts employee health assessments, they look for health issues related to each employee's work and overall wellbeing. If they find evidence of an occupational health issue that requires medical treatment or an adjustment to an employee's duties, they act on it. Following the health assessment, they may advise employees to see their GP if necessary.
By contrast, employee health screening carried out by your medical insurance provider can give your employees more extensive health information, enabling them to set goals and improve their general health.
How health insurance can support your employees
Health insurers' health assessments aim to provide a complete picture of an employee's health and wellbeing and provide them with information that helps them to create a health and wellbeing plan. Many health insurers' assessment packages encourage goal-setting and provide up to 12 months of support to help your staff reach their targets.
The support can include accountability calls a couple of times during the year. Your employees can also access self-help resources online and call your insurer's telephone helplines for practical advice. Of course, medical insurance also provides access to private healthcare if there's an issue that would benefit from treatment.
Employee health screening helps you track your employees' health and wellbeing and prevent possible health issues before they become more serious. Health assessments covering a broader range of issues and health concerns also demonstrate a commitment to looking after your staff's overall health, not just problems that could affect their work. This can positively impact your business reputation and make you an employer of choice.
Other business benefits include reduced absenteeism, a more highly engaged and motivated workforce, increased productivity and reduced workplace stress. A company that looks after its staff will also typically see higher employee retention.
Most health insurers offer a range of health assessment packages, which include examinations, tests and support depending on your needs. The health screening starts by asking for details of your employees' medical history. All health assessments include core tests and checks, including:
- Height and weight assessments
- Lung age (for current or recent smokers)
- Body fat percentage check
- Body mass index check
- Non-fasting blood sugar check for diabetes
- Blood pressure check
- Waist-to-height ratio
- Mobility and flexibility check
Some health assessments can also include fitness tests, resting heart rate checks, and a mental health assessment if necessary. Different health assessments involve varying amounts of time with medical professionals.
Your employees will usually need to travel to a local assessment centre for their appointment. However, some insurers offer supplementary health checks and support services that can be delivered at your workplace.
After every health assessment, the assessor will provide your employee with details of their findings. When you sign up for occupational health assessments with your insurer, they'll provide you with details of how information is provided to your staff and what any follow-up support services include.
The detailed information gathered during each health assessment remains confidential. However, your insurer can provide you with statistical information based on their findings. To maintain confidentiality, you'll typically need to enrol a minimum number of employees to receive this.
Whilst you won't receive detailed information about individual health assessments, your insurer may identify information about a health concern that they believe should be disclosed to you or your occupational health department. Ideally, they'll speak to your employee after they've completed the health checks to obtain their consent to send you a report. This would only include information about the specific concern, not the rest of the health assessment, so that you can take appropriate steps.
Generally, you'll only receive anonymised statistical information following health assessments, but you can use it in several ways.
If health assessments identify common themes regarding the health challenges your employees face, you may decide to create a workplace wellness program to promote positive lifestyle changes. Such initiatives can improve employee engagement and promote good workplace relationships.
Potential initiatives could include creating a lunchtime walking group or arranging activity sessions if inactivity is a problem. You could also run training sessions to educate staff about health and wellbeing. External initiatives such as the Cycle to Work scheme, which aims to encourage employees to cycle to work, could also be considered. Depending on your chosen policy, your insurer may also provide support and guidance to help you design your wellbeing scheme.
Make changes to your workplace
For many reasons, there may be better solutions for your employees or business than a wellbeing initiative. However, you can still act to improve your employee's health in other ways. You can use your occupational health assessment data and workplace risk assessments to identify areas for general improvement. For example, if your team's working days are typically spent sitting at a desk, creating a culture where everyone takes regular breaks can help to improve this. Time away from your desk has also been shown to have mental health benefits and could also give you a more productive workforce.
Alternatively, you could promote healthy eating by providing healthy snacks or improving break room facilities to encourage staff to bring in their own lunch instead of heading to the nearest takeaway. The UK Health Security Agency has useful resources to help you identify ways to improve employee health.
Mental health support
It's estimated that 12.7% of all sickness absence in the UK is related to poor mental health. Most business health policies offer access to online resources and an employee assistance program (EAP), which gives employees access to confidential counselling or mental health support helplines. Employees are often reluctant to discuss mental health concerns with their supervisors or HR because they're worried it will affect their future careers. The third-party support an EAP offers relieves this concern.
Promoting your EAP and ensuring staff are aware of the benefits can help them to improve their mental health.
How much do employee health assessments cost?
If you want your insurer to carry out occupational health checks and health assessments on your behalf, you'll typically need to buy medical insurance first. You can then add a health screening programme to your policy at an additional charge. Depending on the size of your business, you may also be able to outsource your occupational health provision.
How much adding occupational health services or a health assessment program to your insurance will vary between insurers. When providing a quote, an insurance company will assess the risk factors associated with providing a policy. Some relate to the policy coverage itself, while others relate to your business. Different insurers consider risk differently, so it's worth getting a range of quotes before you buy a policy.
Policy factors relate to your chosen policy and insurer. You can adjust these elements to suit your needs and budget.
Level of coverage
Different medical insurance policies offer varying levels of coverage. A basic policy typically includes inpatient and day patient treatment, cancer coverage and mental health care such as counselling. You'll need to pay more for a comprehensive policy, which includes diagnostic tests, outpatient treatment, a more comprehensive range of therapies and increased financial limits. There are benefits to including some additional cover. For example, outpatient cover can provide a faster diagnosis so your employees spend less time on an NHS waiting list, and your business benefits from reduced absenteeism.
If you opt to add occupational health services and a health assessment service to your policy, this will also increase the cost.
The underwriting your policy includes influences the cost of your monthly premiums. Moratorium and full medical underwriting both have a two-year moratorium period, which excludes any pre-existing conditions from coverage. A pre-existing condition is any illness an employee consulted a doctor about during the five years before they joined the policy. You can save money by opting for full medical underwriting, where employees provide medical history details when they join. Claims are also typically processed more quickly as your insurers already know which exclusions apply.
The most expensive option, medical history disregarded underwriting, is only available on business health insurance. As the name suggests, there are no exclusions based on pre-existing conditions, so your employees benefit from complete confidentiality and can access private treatment whenever they need it. Your business benefits because your employees can be treated quickly and return to work, whatever the cause of their ill health.
The policy excess represents the amount an employee pays towards their treatment when they claim. Some insurers charge the excess on each new claim, while others apply it annually.
You can increase the amount of your policy excess and reduce the cost of your premiums.
Your insurer will examine your business to determine the risk an employee will claim on the policy. You'll be charged more if they believe your business carries an increased risk. Business health coverage is provided via a group policy, meaning your insurers can spread the cost over a larger group of people. You'll typically pay less per head the more employees your policy covers.
While you can tailor your policy to reduce the cost of your insurance, the business factors are generally fixed.
Private healthcare typically costs more in London and other cities due to higher wages, rents and utility costs. If your business is located in Central London, you'll generally pay more for your insurance and occupational health assessments than in rural Devon. You may also need to add an extended hospital list to your policy coverage. Insurers' hospital lists detail the hospitals and treatment centres your policy covers. Access to higher-cost hospitals is typically only offered on their extended lists.
Some insurers don't have postcode-dependent quotes, which could help you save money on your premium.
The industry you work in
If you work in a high-risk industry, your quote will be higher because there's a greater chance an employee will claim on the policy. Your health screening charges may also be higher, as each occupational health assessment may need to include a broader range of checks.
Your insurers will also look at the work each employee does as part of your overall risk profile. For example, if your staff are mainly office-based, your chance that an employee will claim is lower than if most employees engage in dangerous tasks such as roofing or construction.
The average age of your employees
Health insurance becomes more expensive as you get older because there's an increased likelihood of making a claim. If you have a group policy, your insurers look at the average age of your workforce. Your employees' age may also impact the health assessments you implement. Basic health checks are included in most occupational health assessments. However, if you need to assess employee capability as they age, you may need to add fitness tests to your health screening program.
The number of employees you want to enrol
The cost of your health insurance will change according to the number of employees you want the policy to cover. Equally, the amount you'll pay for an occupational health assessment program also varies depending on the number of employees you choose to enrol. While there are business benefits to including your entire workforce in health screening, you may prefer to use your budget to monitor specific groups of workers. For example, you may want to apply a minimum age limit or only offer health assessments to staff in more dangerous roles or with particular health concerns.
It's worth remembering that insurers typically require a minimum enrolment figure before they can provide anonymised statistical data on health assessments and trends in your workplace.
Get in touch
Employee health insurance and a workplace health assessment program can help you improve employee wellbeing and reduce sickness absence, along with a range of other benefits.
Finding the right insurance and health assessments for your business can be a time-consuming and complex process. Speaking to a specialist broker gives you advice tailored to your circumstances to help you find the right solution for your business.
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