How do different cash plans measure up?
With preventative health a key part of their remit, health screenings fit perfectly alongside the dental, optical and physiotherapy benefits included on healthcare cash plans. But, while most providers offer some form of screening benefit, there are questions over whether employees regard it as a valuable addition to a cash plan.
For the providers, its inclusion is a no-brainer.
“Health screening is a valuable benefit,” says Lara Rendell, marketing manager at Health Shield. “A health screen can detect potential health issues before they become a problem, allowing the employee to make lifestyle changes to prevent them. It can save lives.”
Indeed, according to Nuffield Health, the independent sector hospital, screening and gym group, a health problem requiring further investigation is discovered in 5% of people having a health screening while the results of a further third screenings identify health risks that can be remedied through lifestyle changes such as diet or exercise.
When it comes to the health screening benefit on cash plans, there’s little difference between the providers. On their £1 a week plans, most offer an annual benefit of £100.
Some providers take a different approach, notably Westfield Health. It does not include a health screening benefit on its flagship Foresight plan, preferring to include a scanning benefit and an online personal health risk assessment.
“The online health risk assessment will identify areas where an employee can make improvements and suggest ways to do this,” says Paul Shires, sales and marketing director at Westfield Health. “Employers can upgrade to cover the cost of simple biometrics and on-site tests if they want.”
Although health screening is omitted from Westfield Foresight, it is included on its Mosaic plan, where employers can add up to £250 of cover, and on its Advantage Corporate Healthcare Plan, where it features on the two highest levels.
On the Advantage plan, benefits are restricted further too. Benefits, which are £115 on the £19.15 a month plan and £150 on the £28.80 a month plan, are payable over a two-year period and employees can only claim back 75% of the cost of the screening.
BHSF operates a similar model on its health scheme product, extending the benefit period to two years and setting the reimbursement rate at 75%. Likewise, Aviva also has a two-year benefit period with a slightly higher reimbursement rate at 80%. It also imposes a 12 month qualification period on the benefit.
An employee contribution towards a health screen is also expected on Engage Mutual’s One Fund. At £10 a month, employees can access up to £120 of health screening benefit while this increases to £300 at £20 a month. However, on each plan, they must pay an excess of £40.
A different approach is also taken on Medicash’s Reward plan. While other cash plans, including its Proactive plan, require employees to send in a receipt to claim their benefit, this provides them with a voucher to obtain a screening once every three years.