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A fundamental shift

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The way the public want to access health benefits is changing and cash plans will play an increasing role, says Phil Wood, marketing and sales director at Health Shield

Phil Wood

The issue of health and wellbeing in the workplace has never been more important. With both financial and market pressures being exerted on the NHS, employers have a vital role to play in helping to provide a range of employee benefits that suit the needs of their most important asset their people.

Health cash plan insurance schemes can allow clients to offer all their employees quick and convenient access to non-NHS services.

This means that any niggling health issues, such as sports injuries or back problems, can be diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively, without the need to visit A&E or a GP. This in turn helps to relieve the strain on the NHS, enabling its services to cater for critical or higher priority cases.

In addition to offering tangible benefits to help boost health and wellbeing, implementing a healthcare scheme can boost morale and be advantageous in many other ways. The health cash plan market has designed products that complement NHS services through a range of healthcare benefits. Benefits can include specialist consultation, including X-Ray and pathology fees, NHS or private hospital benefits such as inpatient, day surgery and parental hospital stay, and maternity antenatal appointments and adoption.

By providing opportunities to openly discuss the healthcare market, providers will be able to shape the future of the marketplace and continue to meet the needs of all stakeholders

In fact, health cash plan providers have developed and enhanced core products to dovetail across both NHS and private services, suiting the individual’s needs.

Dental benefits are perceived by employees as one of the most important parts of their healthcare cover. Employees can be given access to dental benefits as part of their company scheme and they are entitled to 100 per cent cashback on a wide range of dental treatments, whether through an NHS or private dental practice.

This is particularly useful for people who may be concerned about covering dental costs for themselves and their family.

It has been reported that there is difficulty in obtaining NHS treatment in certain areas of the UK and the higher costs of private dental care is difficult for most people to afford. The Office of Fair Trading is also set to launch a review of the dentistry sector to examine whether the private and NHS dental markets are working well for patients.

Optical cover is one of the most popular benefits. The benefit is available at varying levels and also includes contact lenses and eye laser surgery, in addition to eyesight tests and prescribed glasses the cost of which is not all covered by the NHS, depending on an individual’s circumstances.

Selecting a plan that includes physiotherapy benefits can bring about significant returns, such as reducing the amount of time people take off work due to injury or accidents. In addition, it can create a more productive, engaged and happier workforce as employees are not distracted by niggling health worries.

It is vital that health cash plan providers continue to open up the channels of communication with intermediaries, clients and members to continually improve and develop in line with the changing healthcare landscape and needs.

Health cash plan providers continue to work hard to respond to the changing marketplace, both in terms of the product portfolio and the actual benefits and services provided to intermediaries, clients and members.

This includes working with an increasing number of intermediaries and advisers who are reviewing health cash plan solutions, particularly in the employee and flexible benefits group markets.

But, there is still work to be done and providers must constantly engage with healthcare intermediaries to enhance the products and services provided.

By providing opportunities to openly discuss the healthcare market, providers will be able to shape the future of the marketplace and continue to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Both the NHS and the healthcare market are continuously evolving. As a result, employers have the opportunity to offer cover to all their people. As work and health and wellbeing go hand-in-hand any reduction in sickness absence will provide a return on investment in employee health and engagement within the workplace.

There is a fundamental shift taking place, including social, economic and technological factors, which is changing the way people want to access health-related advice and treatments, and health cash plans will continue to match those needs.

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