One of the main factors arising from the coronavirus pandemic has been that for many workers their home and work life has become blurred, in that their office is where they now live, and they work in their home, creating what has been an unexpected impact on the physical and mental well-being of many employees, which simply could not have been anticipated by any of their employers as one of the unexpected outcomes of the restrictions arising from of COVID-19.
In particular, people have not been able to handle all the issues arising from lockdown in a universal fashion, some people have been able to establish an effective lifestyle, whilst others have really struggled and it is this variance in resilience that has challenged the support able to be offered by traditional employee benefits.
As the needs and expectations of employers and their staff have evolved during the pandemic, no benefit has felt the challenge more than Private Medical Insurance (PMI).
Firstly, many of the providers suspended their services as the pandemic developed because their facilities were quite correctly redirected to support NHS resources, however, how many of the providers have chosen to address the continuing employer funding whilst providing reduced service has not always seemed satisfactory, leaving ground to be made up. Traditionally, PMI has been almost of a transactional nature, where treatment is secured in exchange for a medical referral from your GP, whereas the market requires more progressive and proactive solutions to meet the fluid employment conditions of current employees.
So, what should you as an employer be looking for from their PMI in 2021?
Well, great service and accessibility continue to be flagship requirements, but with many employers deciding to continue with homeworking for large quotas of their staff, additional services which recognise this population is a ‘must have’ to combat potential isolation and promote inclusivity.
An additional service that has proved hugely popular, particularly in rural areas where normal NHS medical services have been stretched, has been online access to virtual GP services, which combined with 24/7 online or phone access to qualified nursing support has taken PMI to a new level.
Equally, with so many people locked down in their homes and restricted in their outdoor movements, the option of online counselling and/or therapy support has proved hugely helpful in maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle.
Muscular/skeletal issues can affect many of us, and whilst in the scheme of things it is not an emergency, these are conditions that can impact every aspect of your living, making work a chore and pastimes hard work rather than a pleasure. Therefore, having access through your PMI to immediate advice or diagnostic services without having to obtain referrals from elusive GPs first is a really good option, and one that will be much appreciated by your staff and your company.
These are only a few brief examples of how innovative PMI providers are enhancing their services to meet employers' evolving needs, many of which may well fit with your benefit requirements if only you were aware of them. The good news is that as consultants we are constantly monitoring and stress testing these market developments.
The key point being that however good your past service has been from your PMI provider, engage with your adviser before renewing, think about your current staffs working conditions, have they changed? are there additional services that could really augment the value of this benefit to them? Are there more cost-effective solutions?
Private Medical Insurance is not only growing in popularity, but, also in base service cost, so getting exactly the cover your company needs for your spend has never been more important.