This article was supplied by HSF Health Plan
Health cash plans offer a flexible and cost-effective alternative to private medical insurance, says Lee Andre, marketing manager at HSF Health Plan
The popular desire for private medical insurance (PMI) can hardly be underestimated. Of course, most employees would, if they could, opt into the reassurance of knowing that, if necessary, medical treatment would be available instantly and easily. However, it is undeniable that for many, and probably even the majority, PMI is financially out of reach, and even organisations are now struggling to afford to provide it as an employee benefit to the whole of their workforce.
With economic circumstances putting pressure on sales of PMI, health cash plans are fast becoming the preferred alternative, or a top-up to cheaper PMI schemes. Although less familiar than PMI, health cash plans have a long heritage stretching back to the 1870s, predating the National Health Service by 70 years. Health cash plans were created as a form of health insurance for those who could afford healthcare, and in their earliest form were known as hospital Saturday funds. These allowed workers to contribute a small amount of their earnings on payday, traditionally a Saturday, to pay for local medical care as and when they needed it.
Health cash plans have come a long way since their localised beginnings and are now an increasingly popular method of ‘bridging the gap’ between difficult-to-access public health services and relatively expensive PMI. Cash plans enable their members to claim back partial or full reimbursement for a range of everyday healthcare treatments, including optical and dental visits, hospital stays and even alternative therapies. For a comparatively small weekly premium (HSF health plans start at £1 a week), contributors are reimbursed the cost of health expenses up to each plan’s maximum annual amount for each benefit. While PMI can be seen as a full service alternative to public health services, health cash plans might be thought of as complementing the public services available, and can be particularly beneficial for those who regularly spend on treatment areas that are too pricey for the NHS to cover the full cost, such as dental treatment, optical care and alternative therapies.
Because health cash plans are so cost-effective, they are ideal for employers to offer as benefits. They are a good option for organisations that may, for example, want to offer directors PMI but cannot afford to offer it to the whole workforce.
Health cash plans are attractive to employers because they are so flexible. Employers can fund the plans themselves, share the cost with employees or offer them to staff on a voluntary basis. Also, health cash plans as an employee benefit can be a distinct advantage to both employers and employees, and are often regarded as adding significant value to a remuneration package.
Regular health checks have the benefit of picking up and monitoring minor health conditions, and with the financial cover and peace of mind that cash plans provide, employees can seek treatment at an earlier stage before a condition causes long-term absence. This makes the plans extremely attractive to employers of any size.
Another quality of health cash plans is that the range of options available differs so dramatically that they can be tailored to meet the requirements of any organisation or individual that may wish to use them.
Health cash plans are a great alternative to PMI. They really do provide a middle ground between PMI and public health services, and those who have an interest in PMI but do not have the finances are very likely to be interested in investigating this option.
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