What services can health insurance provide?

Health insurance is a valuable part of your employee benefits package and can provide access to various health and well-being services. Private health insurance includes core coverage that all customers receive as standard. You can also tailor your policy to add more benefits and a broader range of medical care.

The more you include in your employee health insurance, the higher your premium. Speaking with a specialist broker for advice can help you include elements that best support employees and ensure you get value for money. You can encourage your employees to develop healthy habits. Your business will benefit from greater employee engagement, a more productive workforce and fewer sickness absences.

Here are a few benefits that health insurance typically includes.

Fast access to treatment

Your employees will receive high-quality care whether they choose private treatment via your health insurance or NHS care. However, they'll likely have a longer wait with the NHS, which can mean worsening symptoms and less favourable treatment outcomes.

There are currently 7.6 million people on the NHS waiting list for elective treatment, and over 300,000 have been waiting for over a year. Conversely, a private hospital can typically see and treat patients within a few weeks. Private hospitals also offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms and a choice of restaurant-quality meals.

Employees can also book physiotherapy, counselling, and mental health treatment without a GP referral, depending on your chosen coverage.

Online and telephone health support

Every health insurer has its version of a digital GP service. Employees can book appointments 24/7, meaning they can seek health advice after work or in the middle of the night rather than sticking to their NHS GP's shorter opening hours. Virtual GP services offer telephone and video appointments, usually bookable online or via an app. They're ideal for straightforward health issues, private prescriptions and treatment referrals.

Most insurers also provide nurse-staffed telephone helplines where your staff can seek health advice. These helplines don't offer referrals or prescriptions but can answer questions and suggest other sources of help. This could include explaining the coverage a policy provides or signposting self-help resources. Some insurers operate specialist mental health helplines or provide access to a broader range of medical professionals, such as pharmacists, physiotherapists, or midwives.

Health assessments

Employee health assessments provide employees with information about their health and assist employees in setting healthy living goals. Policies typically include 12 months of support and accountability to ensure employees feel empowered to take responsibility for their health. Insurers' reward schemes provide members with discounts on well-being products and services. Your team can also book enhanced health assessments at discounted rates.

If you increase the number of employees participating in health assessments by working to increase employee engagement, your insurer can provide data insights to help you understand employee's health. The data enables you to devise strategies and improve workforce well-being.

Employee assistance program

An employee assistance program (EAP) is typically an optional extra at an additional cost. EAPs provide confidential, third-party telephone support 24/7. Most offer telephone counselling and mental health support, while some also provide financial and legal advice. The financial and legal helplines offer general guidance rather than tailored financial planning or legal representation. However, they provide useful guidance and can help with common financial or legal worries.

Emphasising that an EAP is a third-party service can encourage employee engagement. Staff can discuss any worries, whether work-related or personal, without having to disclose sensitive information to their employer. Fear of judgment or the potential impact on their career can dissuade employees from discussing concerns, so an EAP provides a cost-effective solution that also makes employees feel supported.

Support with workplace wellness programs

We've mentioned that employee engagement with health assessments lets your insurer provide data on health issues and trends amongst your workforce. The data is anonymised to enable you to see patterns but not identify individual staff. The information allows you to identify areas for improvement and implement suitable well-being initiatives.

Adding occupational health support to your policy helps your company devise workplace wellness programs. You can base these on the results from health assessments and health and safety concerns relevant to your industry. Your insurer can help you analyse the data and suggest suitable initiatives.

How does employee engagement impact health and well-being?

Increasing employee engagement in well-being initiatives can create a virtuous cycle. Highly engaged employees are more likely to participate in well-being programs, which help increase workplace productivity and engagement.

CIPD research found that managers with poorly managed stress passed this on to their teams by panicking and failing to communicate effectively, undermining team performance and impacting employee morale. Training employees in stress management could prevent this. Employees who feel stressed but are highly engaged are more likely to experience burnout or ill health. Research by the Engage for Success movement found that employees and companies were most productive when there were high levels of employee engagement and well-being combined. A company that ensures employees feel supported boosts engagement with work and well-being initiatives.

How can businesses engage employees with well-being services?

Working to engage employees with well-being initiatives and strategies has clear business benefits. There are various ways to boost employee engagement with well-being programs. It's a good idea to tailor your approach to your employees by analysing employee data and inviting your team to share their ideas and offer feedback.

Here are a few ways to encourage employee engagement with their health insurance benefits and your well-being programs.

Build a positive company culture

Increasing employee engagement with health and well-being assistance starts from the top and permeates your company culture. Fundamentally, it involves creating an environment where staff feel supported and can share ideas or concerns when appropriate.

Ensuring managers lead by example and participate in well-being events encourages employees to follow suit. For example, if you want to encourage staff to take a lunch break, it helps if they can see their team leader doing the same. Training managers to assist with well-being also helps. Appointing a wellness coordinator demonstrates your commitment to employees' well-being and can provide practical support.

It's also good to consider initiatives that help employees build positive workplace relationships. These can be a source of help and advice when needed, but research suggests that workplace friendships also increase employee engagement.

Ensure benefits are easy to access

Simple strategies are often the most effective. Your employees are much more likely to use their health insurance benefits if they find it straightforward. When choosing a health insurance policy, consider what features will help your team access treatment or other assistance. For example, if they're busy at work all day and have commitments outside work, they're unlikely to want to spend time telephoning a call centre to arrange treatment.

Most insurers have an app or online booking service. Some let you choose and book a date and time online and receive email confirmation. Others provide a contact form to request a callback or booking link for a specific service or consultant appointment. When choosing your policy, consider whether your chosen insurer's interface will be convenient and accessible to your team or whether there are different options so your employees can choose which they prefer. If you have a company intranet that employees use regularly, it's wise to provide links to book appointments or access resources.

Communicate health insurance benefits clearly

We've mentioned including links to health insurance resources, but good communication should go beyond this. Creating a strategy to ensure you communicate effectively increases employee engagement. Most insurers provide business customers information about their health insurance policies to share with their staff. You can share these with employees when you first invest in medical insurance and with new starters during your onboarding process.

However, most policies include many treatments and services. Staff are most likely to engage when they need help and want to check whether their medical insurance covers their treatment. Equally, they may forget about additional benefits such as the EAP, virtual GP or telephone helplines.

Frequent reminders using various methods ensure staff are aware of the benefits their plan provides. Consider using verbal and written reminders, such as training sessions, emails and posters. If you create a wellness program, ensure program information is widely available to encourage employees to get involved.

Provide healthy living rewards

Most insurers offer rewards and discounts to members. Your employees can receive some discounts automatically and earn others by achieving their goals. Issuing regular reminders of the rewards your policy provides helps your employees save money and earn treats. It can also incentivise them to participate in workplace well-being activities if these align with their goals.

You can also offer other incentives and link them to your wellness initiatives. Team challenges can help employees build workplace friendships and create healthy competition. Alternatively, you can motivate employees to join wellness programs by rewarding everyone who signs up.

Add employees' families to coverage

Adding employees' family members to their medical insurance can improve employee engagement as it shows your commitment to their families' well-being as well as their own. It can provide employees with peer-to-peer support at home and work, particularly if earning healthy living rewards gives them a discount on their next family outing or holiday.

Many insurers will add members' children free of charge or only charge for the first one. You can offer to add their spouse or family members to the policy if they pay the premium. Group health insurance premiums are typically lower than individual policies, meaning they can access health coverage for less.

Create engaging workplace wellness programs

Getting creative with your workplace wellness programs can increase engagement and let you remind staff of the other well-being benefits their policy provides. Using the data from health assessments lets you identify the help your employees might need, but engaging programs must offer something they want.

Surveys and staff forums can help you gather information about the types of activity that interest your employees and the challenges they face. If they struggle to find time to exercise at home, lunchtime activity sessions can provide a solution. Cookery classes can teach staff to prepare a healthy meal and socialise with their colleagues while they eat.

Gathering information about challenges also enables you to ensure accessibility for staff with disabilities or varying fitness levels.

Promote learning and development

One of the best ways to engage employees with wellness initiatives is to empower them to take responsibility for their health. Health assessments can achieve this by providing personalised data and wellness support throughout the year. However, you can also promote wellness in your office environment by running training and education sessions and signposting staff to resources to learn about topics relevant to them.

Speaking to staff about their needs or arranging a survey can help you determine which wellness topics your workforce is interested in. You can arrange training sessions on relevant subjects, which can be peer-led if staff have appropriate expertise. Alternatively, you can engage a third-party supplier. You can increase engagement by asking staff about their other interests and including these in wellness activities. For example, if your team is interested in local history, you can offer a guided lunchtime walk to encourage employees to participate.

Most medical insurance providers offer self-help information to members and non-members. These include articles on common illnesses and conditions and ways to improve one's well-being. Encouraging staff to explore these resources could increase engagement with medical insurance.

Track your progress

Tracking engagement with wellness services and initiatives can take time and effort. Your health insurer can tell you how many employees participate in wellness checks and provide data. However, individual medical information must remain confidential.

You can track participation in wellness activities to assess which has the highest engagement and check whether well-being data from your insurer demonstrates improvements over time.

It's also wise to assess engagement to see whether your efforts produce more highly engaged employees. You can track this using employee surveys or one-on-one interviews. Metrics such as employee turnover and sickness absence can also contribute to the picture.

Get in touch

Globacare's specialist advisers help our clients find the best health insurance for their employees and business needs. Contact us for a comparison quote, and we'll provide advice tailored to your circumstances.

Aaron Parkin

Aaron Parkin

Aaron's energy, passion, infectious energy, and an insatiable appetite to help others are why he's been so successful in the past and why we had to have him with us at Globacare.

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