Cash plans: Beyond the basics

Aside from the mainstay benefits of optical and dental reimbursements, cash plans offer access to a range of other services such as physiotherapy and homeopathy. But what about when it comes to more serious illnesses? Emily Perryman investigates

Cash plans have long been associated with providing cover for an employee’s everyday healthcare needs, most notably optical and dental care. But a series of product changes are moving cash plans far beyond their traditional realm into serious health issues such as cancer and serious bodily injury.

With all the media coverage around cancer provision, it is no surprise that cash plan providers have stepped into the arena. One of the most exciting developments is BHSF’s new standalone cancer plan, Plan4Life, which at the point of a cancer diagnosis allows the individual to claim a cash sum payment of up to £24,000 to spend on monthly bills, additional travel costs to and from hospital, or the cost of alternative therapies or drugs not available on the NHS. Plan4Life (see our product review on page 49) includes access to a GP helpline and counsellors who offer long-term support to the individual and their family. No medical examination or questionnaire is required to apply for cover and family medical history is disregarded. Monthly premiums for a man aged 40 range from £5.10 on level one to £11.50 on level three.

Medicash also offers oral cancer cover on its corporate dental plan, Medicash Smile, which provides cover from £1.50 per employee per week. The product pays out a lump sum of up to £10,000 after diagnosis of oral cancer, although there is a 12 month waiting period before members can claim.

Sue Weir, chief executive of Medicash, says: “The oral cancer cover provides peace of mind by providing additional funds towards treatment costs and giving individuals the freedom to choose the type of treatment they receive and where. The money can also help an individual to cover everyday household bills during their recovery, reducing the financial worries which are often related to a serious illness.”

Several providers also offer a personal accident benefit, which covers accidental death and permanent disability. Under BHSF’s Health Scheme plan, maximum benefits per year range from £25,000 on level one to £200,000 on level five. The insured person will receive a payout if they sustain a bodily injury caused by violent accidental external and visible means resulting within two years in paralysis, insanity, loss of speech, loss of hearing, loss of sight, loss of limbs, fractures, burns or accidental death. Simplyhealth’s new product, Simply Cash Plan, offers personal accident benefit as a module which employers can add on for 30p per employee per week. It allows members to claim money back for stays in hospital, up to a maximum of 20 days/nights per year. Meanwhile, Medicash’s Active plan gives a lump sum payment for an accident which results in injury of up to £45,000. Weir says that since the beginning of 2009, personal accident claims have made up 2% of the total claims value paid out by Medicash.

Westfield Health’s Surgery Choices product is another example of a cash plan provider moving beyond oral and dental benefits. It covers employees for 60 different surgical procedures normally classed by the NHS as non-urgent, such as cataracts, gall stones, varicose veins, prostate problems, gynaecological conditions, tonsil problems, slipped discs, hip and knee problems, and hernias.

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