Protecting your health

Post by Mearns & Company in News

Private healthcare options are on the rise as more people are looking at alternatives to the NHS through personal or workplace provision. 

With nearly 40% of people reporting difficulty in getting GP appointments and over two million people on long-term sick leave as of July 2023, the incentive for individuals and businesses to focus on health cover is growing. Different protection and insurance products offer a range of primary healthcare options, such as GP and dental services, and, in some cases, contribute towards the cost.

There are significant differences between providers and products in price, coverage and exclusions, although none replicates the range of services available via the NHS. Understanding the details of each policy is key to finding the right option.

Cash plan policies: Relatively low-cost plans that pay out a fixed contribution to routine healthcare costs, for example an optician, dentist, physiotherapist or chiropodist.

Income protection: An insurance policy that will pay a fixed income (usually a proportion of your salary) when signed off work through ill health. This money can ensure essential bills are paid during a period of illness.

Critical illness: Specific conditions are insured on this policy which pays a lump sum on the diagnosis of one of the serious illnesses listed. They will include most cancers, heart disease and stroke.

Private medical insurance: Typically covers the cost of private diagnostic tests, consultations and hospital treatment. Emergency cover is not included, nor is treatment for existing or ongoing problems such as asthma and diabetes, nor pregnancy-related complications.

Promoting healthier lifestyles

Many products now also offer a range of additional services, often at no extra cost, designed to support good physical and mental health. This can include access to virtual GP services, mindfulness and mental health apps or online counselling, plus information on lifestyle issues – for example improving diet, cutting down on alcohol, quitting smoking or doing more exercise. Some may even offer discounts on gym membership to encourage a healthier lifestyle. Benefits may also be available to family members.

While these products can of course be bought individually, employers are increasingly offering some form of health benefit to their staff. Improving staff retention and reducing long-term sickness absence are significant factors in creating a healthier, happier workforce.

If you need to access health insurance at any point or are looking to improve your health, it is worth checking what benefits may be available through your workplace, including access to healthy lifestyle services.

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