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- Cash plan providers allow employers to tailor their plans according to the healthcare needs of their workforce.
- Some providers merge optical and dental benefits, allowing employees access to spend more of the cash back on the service they use most.
- Sharing a cash plan with a partner or dependants gives employees further opportunities to make fuller use of the benefits offered.
Health cash plans offer employers and employees a flexible and cost-effective method of providing the treatments most likely to be needed, says Nicola Sullivan
The number of benefits offered through cash plans is growing, with many providers incorporating lifestyle perks, such as gym membership and alternative therapies, in their offering.
Choice is often used as a selling point but, realistically, staff will seek cash back on only a few treatments and may find some of the benefits offered by their cash plan are duplicated elsewhere in their reward package.
But with corporate plans, the onus is typically on the employer to narrow down the options and enable plans to offer greater levels of cash back on specific benefits.
Westfield Health, for example, allows employers with 20 or more staff to use its bespoke Mosaic scheme, which can be tailored to offer as few as two benefits. Such flexibility can be particularly helpful if an employer wants to ensure the benefits tie up with its goals around occupational health.
Paul Shires, executive director of sales and marketing at Westfield Health, says: “Different organisations want different things. Some are buying the scheme purely as an employee benefit and some as an attempt to improve absence levels and the health and wellbeing of the workforce.”
But benefits that are popular with staff may not always meet the employer’s aims, says Shires. “On a traditional cash plan, one of the most popular benefits is the NHS cash benefit. If an employee is in hospital, they get about £50 a night up to a fixed number of nights. That will not be of benefit to an employer that wants to get the employee back to work, who might be quite happy to stay in hospital and get that £50 a day.”
Benefits to suit workforce
Health Shield offers products that allow employers to choose benefits that suit their workforce. Top-ups can then be added to increase benefits and allow staff to claim greater levels of cash back.†
Lara Rendell, marketing manager at Health Shield says: “Employers could choose not to have physiotherapy, for example. But if they have a lot of manual workers, they could choose physiotherapy and put it at quite a high level because they know it will be of benefit. Or if an employer has a high proportion of male workers, they might not want to include maternity benefits.”
Some providers will merge dental and optical benefits to allow staff to claim back more cash on one than the other. Lee Andre, marketing manager at HSF, says: “Not everyone needs to see an optician; they might have 20/20 vision. If an employee has a pot for dental and a pot for optical and their eyes are absolutely fine, they are never going to make use of that optical pot.
“We put our pots together because it gives staff much more flexibility. Virtually everybody, unless you have a complete aversion to going to the dentist, has a need to go, even if it is once a year for a general check-up.”
Sharing their cash plan with a partner or dependants can help an employee to use more of the benefits on the plan. “If the employee needs physiotherapy and their partner needs dental, they can use the plan together and it is not costing any more,” says Andre.
While choice will always be a feature of today’s cash plans – after all, it is a way o spreading the risk – providers do allow for a certain amount of tailoring, especially for their corporate customers.
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