01 August 2018

SMEs miss out on private medical insurance benefits to the detriment of their business

SMEs are missing out on the vast array of benefits private medical insurance (PMI) can provide, commonly viewing it as something only large corporations can offer. However, not only is it more affordable than they think, it can provide many wider benefits to the business that they may be unaware of.

1) Attraction and retention
As the war for talent rages on, SMEs know they must do everything they can to attract and retain excellent employees. And with 78% of candidates saying they would be more likely to apply for a job if the benefits are well communicated,* and 66% of employees being more likely to stay with an employer that provided good benefits,** having a robust and transparent benefits package can positively impact recruitment and retention.

And, as healthcare concerns affect everyone, regardless of age or employment hierarchy, it’s no surprise that PMI is frequently cited as one of the most popular employee benefits.*** Having this benefit highlights to employees that their health and wellbeing takes priority, and their company will provide support when they need it the most.

2) Prevents long-term illness
Long-term sickness can negatively affect all businesses, with a study by Centre for Economics and Business Research finding that absences of six months or more costs the UK £4.17 billion each year. Talent is the backbone of many businesses, and SMEs can feel the impact of long-term absence even more acutely – a larger company may be able to spread the workload among other employees to manage absences, SMEs don’t have the resources. So, encouraging healthy and rapid returns to work is in everyone’s interest. PMI can support this, providing swift access to medical appointments and treatment – helping to prevent issues escalating, and mitigating the chance of a short-term absence becoming long term. 

3) Financial and emotional support
Part of the attraction of working for an SME is being more than just an employee number and being genuinely looked after by your employer. SMEs don’t take this role lightly either, especially as many are family-run businesses, and therefore are known to personally and financially support employees going through healthcare issues. Whether funding an employee’s physiotherapy or providing financial support to the family of an employee, SMEs take their duty of care very seriously - but often to the detriment of the business and their bank balance.

Not only can PMI offer financial support to employees, covering payment for medical treatments for example, but some plans also include the option to provide emotional support through added-value benefits such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs). Part of this service enables confidential access to a counsellor, guiding employees through difficult times. This helps SMEs to reduce financial and emotional burdens associated with health issues on the business, whilst maintaining excellent levels of support to the employee.

4) Affordability
SMEs may have a misconception that PMI is unattainable, but working with specialist providers and brokers helps to ensure that premiums are affordable whilst employees have access to excellent healthcare benefits. Advisers can talk through the importance of spreading risk, by encouraging take-up of PMI across differing ages of employees within the business, and using the scheme effectively, to help keep premiums down further. Popular added-value benefits, such as discounted gym membership or the option to include travel insurance, can also often give much better value than SMEs may realise.

Brett Hill, distribution director, said: “SMEs have many great selling points that attract people to work for them; often being more flexible, supportive and providing greater career opportunities than their larger counterparts. But they are missing a trick by assuming they can’t afford PMI, when it could be another string to their bow in helping to attract and maintain talent. Providing PMI as part of an holistic health and wellbeing package, can really help them to solidify their position as an employer of choice – demonstrating to employees that their wellbeing is a priority.”

* https://www.michaelpage.co.uk/advice/management-advice/attraction-and-recruitment/employee-benefits-battleground

** https://www.talk-business.co.uk/2016/05/11/benefits-attract-staff/

*** https://palife.co.uk/news/top-10-employee-benefits-revealed/