Bupa has this month launched Business Mental Health Advantage (BMHA), a new company medical insurance policy which the insurer boldly claims offers ‘the most extensive mental health cover’ available.

The new scheme marks itself out from other policies in a number of ways.

Firstly it covers more mental health conditions than other policies. Indeed Bupa says BMHA covers “all mental health conditions”.

Whilst this comes with a caveat – dementia and learning or behavioural development issues are excluded – the protection offered is impressive in a number of ways.


Thinking differently

Bupa says in its marketing : “We’re changing the way we’re thinking about mental health.” This is more than just blurb. The insurer has clearly examined the nature of mental health conditions and how they might be better addressed in the best interests of an insured employee.

That in turn can benefit the employer with BMHA designed to lessen the severity of re-occurrence of illness. That can help minimise absence and maximise productivity.

Crucially Bupa has ditched the three-year “chronic rule”. This means the policy will cover conditions that recur, up to benefit limits. This is limited only by exclusion of pre-existing medical conditions and special or moratorium health conditions.

This is an important move as it acknowledges the nature of many health issues. They’re not simple and may return, courtesy of a range of potential triggers.


Ongoing support

This point is further acknowledged by the structure of the scheme. This includes ongoing support following diagnosis. This element of cover allows for both the monitoring and maintenance of a mental health condition. The idea is that this can minimise the potential for or impact of the return of symptoms.

One such benefit is access to around-the-clock access to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Regarded as one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression, CBT is delivered through Bupa’s wider wellbeing and mental health support service.

So, unusually, this is a policy which will not only treat a condition when it is ‘chronic’, but seeks to prevent its return and minimise its impact of it does.


We’ve got good mental health in Mind

Bupa’s pioneering move is a welcome development and one we’ve noted with great interest. Not only have we reported before on the costs to UK plc of mental health issues, but we’re now backing the charity Mind. Through the Ardonagh Community Trust, the charity vehicle of our parent company, we’re aiming to provide both financial and practical support to Mind.


Covering more mental health conditions

BMHA also distinguishes itself by covering conditions which are typically excluded by other company medical insurance policies.

What you might expect to be covered, is. That includes anxiety, bi-polar disorder and depression. But the policy goes further by also covering alcohol or drug abuse and self-harm. That represents something of a sea change in insurer thinking when it comes to mental health.

In addition Bupa will cover mental health issues which arise from another condition which is not insured. It cites as an example anxiety which may be triggered by a sleep disorder.

The insurer also points out it provides access to 4,300 mental health therapists nationwide.

What’s more if optional Direct Access cover is chosen then an insured employee need to necessarily see a GP. They can call Bupa for support and, if necessary, a referral. Underwriting conditions apply here so please ask your Towergate Health & Protection advisor for details if this option is of interest.

Why take out insurance for mental health conditions?

Aside from providing your employees with access to care and support, mental health insurance can deliver clear benefits to your business.

According to the Health & Safety Executive 12.5 million working days were lost in 2016 to work-related stress, anxiety and depression alone. In that year some 526,000 workers were affected. Remember, these stats reflect only illness related to things like workloads. The triggers for mental health issue are much wider.

BUPA itself reports claims for mental health treatment have doubled within the past ten years. The insurer also cites evidence suggesting that poor mental health costs employers between £33bn and £42bn annually. That’s equivalent to more than £1,000 per employee.

So a policy that proactively promotes good mental health and enables easier and quick access to diagnosis, therapies and treatments can boost the bottom line.


It’s good to talk

It could also be argued that in simply providing mental health insurance, businesses are helping to break taboos, helping to get people talking. That’s a point which Stuart Scullion, chairman of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries has picked up on.

“There are businesses across the UK that want to create a work culture where their employees feel comfortable to start a conversation around mental health,” he said. “This launch from Bupa puts employee support front and centre, and for the first time, UK businesses can be confident they’re providing their employees with access to first class mental health benefits and service, whenever they need it.”


If you’d like to discuss how business mental health insurance could help your organisation, please call our  group risk team on 01254 504910.


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