If you own a small business in the UK, have you thought about health insurance for your team?
A small business health insurance policy can be a cost effective way to make sure you and your staff can access medical treatment when you need it. Even if there are only two people to consider, you do have options available.
With the arrival of COVID-19 many people are struggling to access primary care via the NHS. Private medical insurance providers have developed and extended their plans so that members can speak to a qualified GP via telephone or mobile app. This means that your staff do not have to wait for an appointment with their NHS GP.
Reducing absenteeism and presenteeism is essential for you to keep your business on track in these unprecedented times.
What small business health insurance policies are available?
Health insurance covers quite a wide range of policies in the UK market. Within each sector there are a number of different providers and policy types available. Whether you are looking for a low cost policy such as an employee assistance programme or a more comprehensive plan such as private medical insurance.
Small business health insurance policies available in the UK include:
- Employee Assistance Programmes
- Excess and shortfall insurance
- Cash plans
- Travel insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Hospital Treatment Insurance
- Private medical insurance
- Occupational Health solutions
You could look at any of the policies on an individual basis or you could combine one or more plans. The exception to the rule would be the excess and shortfall insurance. This is designed to run alongside a private medical insurance plan.
Let’s consider the different small business insurance policies available in more detail:
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
The cost of an EAP is very low. They are an employee benefit that offers the employee support in the form of telephone or face to face counselling. Offering a 24/7 helpline for employees to discuss issues whether work related or personal that could affect their ability to work. Some services may also be available to immediate family members also.
Higher level EAP’s also provide a strong element of employer support for managing absenteeism, supporting staff and managing their return to work.
If you employ staff but are restricted by a tight budget, and EAP would really offer maximum support for minimum cost.
EAP’s can be bought as a standalone policy, as part of a cash plan or private medical insurance policy.
Excess and Shortfall Insurance.
This is a great policy designed to work with a private medical insurance policy. This is only available for plans with 5 or more employees.
If you add an excess when you buy a private medical insurance policy this reduces the annual premium. The excess and shortfall insurance would then pay the excess or shortfall should an eligible claim be made. The cost of the excess and shortfall policy is very low and makes it a fantastic money saving solution.
What is an excess?
This is the amount you agree to pay when you make a claim. In most cases the excess is per policy year but could be per claim.
What is a shortfall?
If your consultant or hospital charges over your insurers fee guidelines there may be a shortfall in payment. The employee would be liable to pay any shortfall in treatment costs to the provider.
Cash Plans offer cash back for everyday healthcare costs such as dental, optical, physiotherapy, osteopathy, dental accident, health screening, alternative therapies, vaccinations & inoculations. There are many providers of cash plans and they all offer similar core benefits. Additional benefits then vary between each insurer.
One UK provider actually includes full refund cover for high cost scans such as MRI, CT and PET scans as part of their core benefits.
Your cash plan provider will be able to offer you an EAP and may offer PMI excess cover too. The PMI excess cover would only be necessary if you have a private medical insurance policy in place and have an excess on that policy.
Cash plans are also a very low cost option and are available to businesses with 3 or more staff.
There is no difference in premium regardless of your age.
Group travel insurance is a cost effective way to cover travel insurance requirements for employees. In 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic still disrupting global travel you may not be looking for cover of this type, Please remember though, when everything is back to normal, buying a group travel insurance policy for your small business is an option.
Often sold on a “fit to travel” basis, starting a small business travel insurance policy is easy as your staff will not need to declare their medical history.
You may also find that your private medical insurance provider will offer travel as an add-on benefit to your policy. This is also a simple option, minimal (if any) additional paperwork and a small additional premium for cover.
Small business dental insurance is widely available in the UK. With a whole host of providers offering excellent benefit levels, you have many policies to choose from.
Group dental insurance is not age rated. If you have a 20 year old, 40 year old and 60 year old on the same policy, their premiums will be the same. You can find low cost options that are designed to pay 100% NHS dental fees. You can also buy a fully comprehensive policy with benefit levels that will cover the higher charging private dental costs.
The really fantastic thing about small business dental insurance is that your staff do not have to have a pre-joining dental examination. This makes the set up and membership additions easy for everyone. One provider will even offer small business dental insurance with just one member on cover.
Your private medical insurance policy may offer you a dental (or dental and optical) add-on. These do not tend to be as extensive in cover or value as a standalone dental insurance policy.
Hospital Treatment insurance.
We would not be surprised if you have not even heard about this option!
Hospital treatment insurance is a policy that sits somewhere between a cash plan and private medical insurance. This policy actually works brilliantly alongside a cash plan too.
This is available for businesses with 5 or more employees and the cover it provides is for non-urgent surgery such as:
- Gall bladder surgery
- Hip replacements
- Knee replacement
- Slipped discs
- Varicose veins
In fact, cover is available for over 60 non-urgent surgical procedures.
Hospital treatment insurance does not cover people for any treatment relating to heart, cancer or psychiatric medical conditions. Chronic conditions are also not covered.
There is no difference in premium regardless of your age as these are community rated policies.
Underwriting available on moratorium (MORI) terms for groups of 5 to 499, Continued personal medical exclusions (CPME) or Medical history disregarded (MHD) terms for groups of 500 plus members.
Employees will have a specified monetary claim limit for the lifetime of their policy and will be limited to 3 surgical procedures within a consecutive 12 month period.
Even with the limits in place as shown, Hospital Treatment Insurance still offers small businesses excellent value for money.
Private medical insurance.
Small business private medical insurance is available for 1 or more members. Not all providers will offer a 1 or 2 member policy but they are available. Rates for small businesses with 3 or more employees would be more cost effective.
Private medical insurance is an excellent way to ensure that your staff have rapid access to medical treatment. There are some excellent options from all insurers in the UK. As these policies tend to be modular, you can ensure you are only paying for the cover you need.
UK private medical insurance is designed to cover acute medical conditions and will generally not provide cover for the routine monitoring or medication of a *chronic condition.
*You may have access to a limited element of cover for chronic conditions depending on your policy provider.
When you buy private medical insurance as a small business there are different underwriting options available. Full medical underwriting, Moratorium underwriting and CPME/ CMORI (continued personal medical exclusions/ continued moratorium) are common options.
For businesses with 15 or more employees you could also look at Medical history disregarded underwriting (MHD). This option is more expensive however, it means that your staff would be covered for pre-existing medical conditions.
Small business private medical insurance policies offer cover for a number of element including:
- In-patient and Day-patient treatment
- Out-patient diagnostics and consultations
- Mental Health
- Therapies such as physiotherapy
- Cancer treatment
- Oral surgery
- Complications of pregnancy
- Home Nursing
- Private Ambulance
- 24/7 helplines
- Access to private GP appointments via mobile apps or telephone
The above list is not exhaustive. Many insurers offer additional rewards and benefit add-ons too.
Benefit add-ons could include dental and optical cash back, travel insurance or employee assistance programmes (EAP).
Essentially the more elements that you add to your policy, the higher the premium will become. If you know you could afford to self-fund out-patient treatments and therapies then you could remove them from cover completely or reduce them to a specific monetary limit. This is one way to control the cost of your premium.
Private medical insurance policies offer you the option to add an excess to your policy. The higher the excess you add, the lower your premium will become.
If you are looking for a small business health insurance plan of any type then the team at SMP Healthcare can help you. We have many years’ experience in the UK health insurance sector and can guide you in making the right decision.
We work alongside the majority of health insurance providers and can help you find a great policy first time. The market review that we provide our clients confirms details of cover available and will recommend a policy and provider based on the needs of your business.
If you would like to work with a truly independent health insurance broker then please get in touch.
Telephone: 0800 047 0127/ 01245 929129