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Supporting the health of your employees

15 Feb 2017

There are ways that employers can support their staff to help them be at the top of their game, explains Paul Shires, Director of Global Business Development at Westfield Health.

Wouldn’t it be great if all your employees were functioning at full capacity all of the time. However, it is inevitable that some will be below par for a wide range of reasons – ill health, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, lack of motivation. The list goes on.

There are ways however that employers can support their staff to help them be at the top of their game.

By providing access to health services, you give staff the opportunity to take a proactive approach to their own wellbeing, but with numerous options available and little time to choose the decision will often be put off.

So what options are there?

Some health insurance policies cover just one or two types of treatment, such as dental care or personal accident cover.

However, health cash plans are wider ranging, designed to help people with the cost of routine healthcare, such as dental check-ups and treatment, eye tests and glasses or physiotherapy. They work by paying out a cash sum for the service up to a limit determined by the level of cover paid for. This is often paid for by the employer as a benefit for their staff, but plans also exist that can be paid for by the individual. 

Some health cash plans also have allowances for medical scanning services, counselling and health screening, which help with diagnosis and ongoing treatment. 

Hospital treatment insurance gives people peace of mind that if they ever require medical treatment or surgery, they can bypass potentially lengthy NHS waiting lists by opting to be treated privately.

This type of insurance usually covers most surgical procedures except those for treating cancer and heart conditions (which are prioritised by the NHS), and may also include an allowance for outpatient treatment and additional physiotherapy. Pre-existing conditions probably won’t be covered, unless there hasn’t been any treatment or symptoms for a predefined period of time. 

So with NHS waiting lists not looking like they’ll be getting any shorter anytime soon, the ability to opt for private treatment means that your employees will be back on their feet far sooner.

The gold standard for health cover is private medical insurance, which offers to pay out for any treatment received through private clinics for ‘acute’ conditions – diseases, illnesses or injuries likely to respond quickly to treatment. As with hospital treatment insurance, it is unlikely that pre-existing conditions will be covered unless there hasn’t been any treatment or symptoms for a predefined period of time.

There are lots of levels of private medical insurance with the most basic policies that cover essential treatments, while more expensive comprehensive policies may include specialist therapies and complementary medicines such as acupuncture or chiropody. 

As well as providing ongoing health cover, there are ad hoc services that can also help to maintain the wellbeing of your employees, such as sleep consultants, health screening, health and wellbeing training courses and fresh fruit deliveries.

With all these options for health cover, there is something for everyone, whether you want to make your staff feel more valued, reduce absenteeism or fulfil your duty of care.

The views expressed in blogs such as the above are those of the author and do not represent the views of the Institute of Directors.

Paul Shires

Paul Shires is Director of Global Business Development Director at Westfield Health. He is responsible for identifying significant business opportunities throughout the UK and around the world, nurturing and developing relationships with clients and prospects and ensuring that Westfield Health’s products and services remain relevant and competitive. He has over twenty years’ experience in the health and protection industry and is currently a member of the executive committee of the industry trade body.

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