Where next for Health Cash Plans
For companies looking to provide genuine benefits for employees at highly competitive prices, Health Cash Plans have become something of a go-to product. While they may not be a substitute for the kinds of private medical cover with whistles and bells attached, they can often provide the essentials in health and wellbeing support to staff.
Physiotherapy, dental and optical care make up the vast majority – around 80% – of Cash Plan claims. In many ways these are the basics of healthcare, the areas which people most frequently need to look after and which can potentially be costly for individuals.
Cash Plan providers are also working on their offers, and some now cover private GP consultations over the phone, even when you are travelling overseas. Members can call to get advice and diagnoses over the phone.
It remains to be seen how popular and useful this particular element will be – a virtual GP scheme piloted in the Channel Islands earlier this year proved a flop, with patients choosing to visit GPs in person. It could, though provide a reassuring facility for people who find themselves in need of medical consultation while in overseas countries where language could be a barrier.
In recent years, Health Cash Plans have often been sold as insurance vehicles to cover PMI excesses. But some of the insurers who promoted cash plans to provide this cover have experienced higher claiming rates, and this has resulted, in certain cases, in the withdrawal of renewal terms for standard products. Some providers are offering tailored plans as an alternative, but with higher rates to match claims experience.
This has led to the transfer of business to alternative providers, as employers attempt to take advantage of lower premium rates, which are generally offered in the first year to win the business. Paul Roberts, consultant at IHC, says that while this has happened in various areas of the market, there are some providers consistently offering a good deal: “Westfield seems to have weathered this effect better than other providers, having been able to offer more sustainable and consistent rates at renewals.”
While there has been some movement in the market, and employers are keen to seek out the best deals for their staff at affordable prices, this is still an area that offers value for money on healthcare essentials. Cash Plans continue to be a growing market, simply because they offer an easily accessible, low cost, high engagement benefit.
If you would like to learn more about how Cash Plans can help your business, contact your account manager.