In focus: Cash plans– a new hierarchy emerges

SIMPLYHEALTH has launched a new modular cash plan to coincide with its rebranding this September. This enables clients to buy the ‘Basic Plan’, which starts at £1 per employee per week and consists of most traditional cash plan benefits, with 100% cash back up to an annual limit. Then, depending on the needs of the organisation, clients have a number of choices, including: face-to-face counselling from 15p per week per employee, absence management (from 50p), new child benefit (from 20p) and £20 cash-back a night for up to 20 nights in hospital (from 30p).

AVIVA, which withdrew for new business from the cash plan market in 2004, relaunched this August with a new highly flexible product for consumers. My Health Cash Plan enables policyholders to share a £250 overall limit between optical and dental and also to upgrade or downgrade cover for other benefits too.

HSF health plan, which has for long been unusual in offering the shared optical and dental limit approach adopted by Aviva, increased benefit levels this September. It will be extending personal injury benefits and GP advice lines (currently not available on the lower-cost schemes) to all its schemes, adding other benefits too.

This January HEALTH SHIELD, which had previously only offered tailored company-funded schemes, launched Essentials, a company-funded off-the-shelf product aimed primarily at companies with under 100 employees. It also launched Essentials Plus, which includes an EAP. It sold around 50 of these new schemes in the first half of 2009 – approximately the same number it has sold of its tailored schemes, although the tailored schemes are normally larger.

WESTFIELD HEALTH has introduced a range of policy changes that came into effect for new policyholders this June and for existing policyholders this September. On its Advantage and Good4you Plans, these include a 5% average increase in optical and dental trauma benefits, a 10% average increase on day surgery benefit, a decrease in hospital inpatient benefit allowance from 30 to 20 nights and a bringing in line of level 5 reimbursement rates with those of levels 1-4. It also introduced to the corporate-paid Advantage Plan: scanning benefit, a full EAP and – for companies with ten or more employees - the option to purchase Surgery Choices benefit.

And watch this space also for BUPA CASH PLAN, which is intending to launch an “innovative” new product “later this year”, initially only for groups

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