Investing in business health insurance provides many benefits for your business and employees. It gives your employees access to private healthcare, which typically means they'll be seen more quickly than on the NHS.
Employee health insurance benefits your business by reducing absenteeism and creating a workplace culture that values employee well-being. Employee health insurance is a valued benefit, so it can help you attract the best talent and improve employee retention. Depending on your chosen policy, you can also get support with creating employee well-being initiatives as part of your business health insurance.
What's more, your business health insurance premiums are an allowable business expense for corporation tax, so you can save money on your tax bill too.
All business health insurance policies include core coverage as standard. The coverage is available whether you need a small business health insurance policy for a handful of employees or a corporate health insurance policy designed for a larger workforce.
Coverage levels vary depending on your business health insurance provider. You can also expect to have access to virtual GP appointments, telephone helplines and membership discounts as well as private healthcare coverage.
Here are the types of treatment you can expect to find on all policies.
Inpatient and day patient cover
Inpatient treatment includes any treatment involving a hospital stay. Business health insurance covers inpatient treatment costs, including surgery, rehabilitation or tests, and accommodation costs.
Day-patient treatment is usually carried out in a day-patient unit. It typically involves a longer stay than outpatient treatment but doesn't need a night in a hospital bed as inpatient treatment would.
One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime, so cancer coverage forms a crucial part of every health insurance policy. The cancer coverage your business health insurance provides will vary depending on your chosen provider. Most health insurance policies include coverage for cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Other health insurance provides access to additional support services such as nutritional advice, prosthetics and wigs. Some also offer health insurance coverage for cutting-edge treatments, including stem cell therapy.
Mental health coverage
All business health insurance provides some form of mental health support. This typically includes access to telephone helplines and up to eight counselling or CBT treatment sessions. Many providers offer health insurance member discounts, which include access to mindfulness and meditation apps or online self-help resources.
Business health insurance policies start with core coverage, which you can tailor with optional extras. Some health insurance companies offer packaged health insurance with different levels of coverage, while others let you take a more bespoke approach and flexibly add optional extras.
Some optional extras add different treatment types, while others allow you to extend the amount of coverage your business health insurance policy provides. You can also choose to add business services depending on your circumstances. Some optional extras are only available to corporate customers, while others are available with small business health insurance.
Here are some optional extras you can expect your group health insurance policy to offer and a few pros and cons.
Outpatient cover is one of the most valuable optional extras you can add to your group health insurance policy. Outpatient cover pays for diagnostic tests, scans, pre-diagnosis appointments with a consultant and outpatient treatments.
If your employee health insurance has outpatient cover, it lets your employees access a private diagnosis. Without outpatient cover, they would need to see their GP for a referral to an NHS consultant to carry out tests and scans as necessary. If surgery or other inpatient care is needed, your employee can use their employee health insurance to cover their surgery. However, this approach means spending time on an NHS waiting list. If your health insurance includes outpatient treatment, it'll cover their diagnosis, meaning the process will likely be much quicker.
Outpatient treatment also includes medical care, such as outpatient rehabilitation and physiotherapy. Inpatient cover typically only includes rehabilitation after surgery. If your employee has an operation and needs physiotherapy as part of their post-operative rehabilitation, a standard group health insurance policy will cover it. However, a consultant may recommend a course of physiotherapy before considering whether surgery is needed. Private medical insurance only pays for treatment if your employee health insurance includes outpatient coverage.
Provides a quick diagnosis without the NHS waiting list.
Pays for outpatient treatment when surgery isn't needed.
It lets employees receive treatment and get back to work more quickly.
Employees are much more likely to need outpatient treatment than inpatient care.
Your health insurance premiums will be higher as there's a higher risk your employees will claim.
We've mentioned that outpatient treatment cover lets your employees access a broader range of treatments than inpatient cover. However, even outpatient coverage only goes so far. Every health insurance company is different, so it's worth looking at the small print to see what your policy covers.
Most insurers offer a standard range of treatments as part of their outpatient treatment offering. However, if you want to let your employees choose from a wider selection, you may need to add coverage for alternative or additional therapies. These could include acupuncture, homoeopathy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment. Some may be included in your outpatient health insurance, while others require extended coverage.
Before deciding whether to invest, you must check what therapies are included elsewhere and consider whether your team will likely use alternative treatments.
Provides a broader range of therapies than some outpatient coverage.
Some therapies can be used as part of preventative care to help reduce absence.
Beneficial for employees who prefer alternative therapies to conventional medical treatment.
You may end up paying higher health insurance premiums for coverage that isn't used.
Dental and optical cover
Free dental and optical care is only available in specific circumstances, so your employees are likely already paying for their eye tests, dental check-ups and other treatments. Adding dental and optical coverage to your employee health insurance could save them a significant sum. Private medical insurance varies in its coverage: most cover routine dental check-ups and dental treatments. Your private health insurance will also pay for eye tests and glasses or contact lenses if needed for the first time or if your employee's prescription has changed since their last appointment. Health insurance will typically also pay for emergency dental treatment. If your team regularly travels overseas for work, you can add international coverage, which pays for emergency treatment abroad.
Consider a cashback plan if the premium for full dental and optical coverage doesn't fit your budget. Many insurers include cash plans as part of their employee health insurance, allowing members to claim back the cost of their regular medical treatment expenses. These plans often include cashback for dental and optical treatment, private physiotherapy and other therapies. They can also pay a cash lump sum if you spend a night in a hospital. It can allow your team to claim back the cost of medical treatment even if your health insurance policy doesn't cover it.
Helps your staff save money on their dental and optical care.
Encourages regular check-ups, which can help to identify other health issues.
Adding a cash plan gives employees cashback on their recurring medical costs.
Increases your private health insurance premium.
It may not be worth the investment if your staff are eligible for free eye tests or dental treatment.
Enhanced mental health cover
We've already mentioned that most health insurance includes some mental health support, such as counselling, telephone helplines, or access to self-help resources. However, if your employees need treatment for a psychiatric condition, either on an inpatient or outpatient basis, you'll likely need additional coverage to provide sufficient mental health support.
There are a couple of different ways to extend your mental health coverage. You can increase your health insurance policy's coverage limits to provide more counselling or CBT sessions. In addition, you can include treatment by a consultant psychiatrist, which may include inpatient care, outpatient therapies, and medication if needed. Some health insurance provides inpatient psychiatric care in a basic health insurance policy. However, this isn't routinely available.
The type of mental health support you choose to include depends on your employees and the kind of work you do. It's worth analysing your absence data to consider the extent to which mental health issues impact workplace absence and whether these include psychiatric illnesses that may have required hospital treatment. Alternatively, you may work in a high-stress environment where there's a risk of anxiety, depression and burnout. Providing unlimited access to counselling as part of your private health insurance can enable your staff to discuss their concerns before issues become more serious. However, you must remember that your employees bring their whole selves to work; if workers deal with personal challenges at home, good mental health support will benefit them too.
Enables your staff to seek counselling support for personal and workplace issues.
Prevents employee burnout.
Reduces absenteeism related to mental health issues.
Addresses issues before they escalate by offering a shorter waiting time than an NHS waiting list.
It can include inpatient or outpatient treatment if needed.
We can't think of any, save that comprehensive mental health insurance increases the cost of health insurance.
An extended hospital list
Your chosen private health insurance policy will include a standard hospital list detailing which hospitals and treatment centres your policy covers. Hospital lists usually include private hospitals and clinics; some also offer private rooms in NHS hospitals. As you might expect, private treatment costs are higher in some places than in others due to the cost of staff wages, utilities and rents. Private surgery in a Central London hospital will cost more than in a Leicestershire suburb, so health insurance costs increase to reflect this. Your postcode can influence your premium cost. However, you may also find that your nearest hospital is only available on an extended list.
There are typically two categories of extended hospital lists. One usually adds higher-cost hospitals in major cities to the standard hospital list. The other will include all the hospitals on the other two lists, plus those in Central London, where treatment costs are highest.
An extended list is generally worth having if your business is based in a major city and your employees live nearby. Allowing your staff to choose a local hospital that's easy to travel to increases the likelihood that they'll use the private medical insurance you're paying for rather than waiting for NHS care in a more convenient location. Before choosing a medical insurance policy, check which hospitals are available in your area. If there's a good hospital on the standard list a short distance away, it likely won't be worth investing in an extended list.
Higher financial limits or more treatment sessions
You can extend the amount of mental health treatment your private medical insurance covers, and the same is true of other types of health insurance coverage. If your sickness absence data reveals trends in the kind of illness your employees experience, or if there are specific health risks associated with your work, you can tailor your business health insurance to suit.
For example, your employees may engage in manual labour that carries a risk of musculoskeletal problems. Appropriate health checks and screening are necessary, but adding outpatient cover to allow unlimited physiotherapy can enable workers to seek treatment for minor symptoms before they escalate.
You can increase financial limits on different treatment categories or offer more treatment sessions.
Providing flu vaccinations to your staff can help to prevent one of the most common winter illnesses and reduce the sickness absence burden on your business and the rest of your team. You can provide vaccinations for your employees in two different ways. If you have a large team (typically at least 50 employees), you can pay for a nurse to come to your premises and carry out vaccinations on-site. Alternatively, you can buy vouchers to issue to each employee. They can use their voucher to cover the cost of a vaccination at a local participating pharmacy rather than having to pay for it themselves.
Vouchers are available to businesses of all sizes, so you can add them to your small business health insurance or a corporate policy. It's also ideal if your employees work remotely, as they can choose where to use their vouchers.
Employee health monitoring
Employee health monitoring helps your staff achieve their health goals. It can also provide valuable information to help you create well-being initiatives or make decisions about your health insurance coverage. You can enrol as many staff as you wish, although your insurers will likely ask for a minimum number before they offer the service. There are typically different programme levels, with some offering basic health checks while some include more advanced fitness tests. You can choose the level that suits you based on work-related health risks and employee demographics.
Your employees benefit from advice to help them set health goals and support to reach them. You'll receive anonymised data, allowing you to identify trends and any associated health risks. Then, you can take action to improve employee well-being, for example, by introducing workplace initiatives that encourage them to move around more or reduce their stress levels.
Employee assistance programme
An employee assistance programme (EAP) provides various services to help employees with personal and workplace challenges. Employees can seek mental health assistance over the phone for issues from depression and anxiety to relationship issues and bereavement. They can also access financial and legal guidance and be signposted to appropriate professionals for tailored advice.
Most EAPs also include online resources so employees can access self-assessment tools and self-help resources.
If you have 250+ employees, you need more logistical help managing your workforce than someone with less than ten staff. Health insurance can provide support services to reflect these challenges. Some services are available for businesses of all sizes but have additional features designed for corporate customers which aren't available on small business health insurance policies.
Occupational health support
Your health insurance company can offer external support if you don't already have an internal occupational health team. Your health insurance can help to reduce sickness absence overall. However, if a staff member does need time away from work due to illness, occupational health can stay in contact with them and provide support to help them access appropriate treatment.
Enhanced employee assistance
In addition to the employee assistance programmes we've already mentioned, corporate customers can include access to emergency counselling during periods of significant change or a critical incident, in addition to their usual mental health services or workplace stress management training.
Health insurance covers private medical care for acute conditions that can be resolved with the proper treatment, meaning it doesn't cover every illness. Each policy has exclusions; some are standard, while others relate to your employees' medical history.
You'll find standard exclusions on every health insurance policy. Some insurers have a longer list than others, but you'll typically see the following exclusions on every policy:
Straightforward pregnancy and birth
Cosmetic and weight loss treatment
Treatment for alcoholism or addiction.
Policies vary, so always check the small print before buying health insurance.
A chronic condition can't be cured but can be controlled with the proper care. It typically needs the kind of long-term monitoring that private medical insurance isn't equipped to provide. Some examples of chronic conditions include angina, high blood pressure and asthma.
Pre-existing conditions are excluded from coverage for the first two years after an employee joins your business health insurance. If they remain symptom-free during that period, your insurers can add the condition to their cover later. Pre-existing conditions are any illnesses that an employee sought advice about or medical treatment for in the five years before joining the policy.
Pre-existing medical conditions and underwriting
If you choose full medical underwriting, staff must provide medical history details when they join. This allows your insurers to confirm any exclusions from the outset. If you have moratorium underwriting, your insurer will investigate their medical history when they claim. Medical history disregarded underwriting means there won't be any exclusions based on medical history. However, this is the most expensive type of underwriting.
Get in touch
Choosing the best business health insurance for your needs and budget can be complex. There are many providers and policies to choose from and a range of optional extras to tailor the policy to your team.
We're a regulated broker providing bespoke advice to help you find the right health insurance for your business. Contact us for a comparison quote.