Employee benefits in the Energy sector – why you should consider private medical insurance

BLOG26th Aug 2021

Recent research published by GRiD, the industry body for group risk protection, highlighted that a fifth of employees do not know how their employer would support them if they were absent through ill-health or injury. This highlights the need for employers to ensure information is provided in an easy, accessible manner, but that a communication campaign can also provide real value for awareness.

From conversations with clients, we are aware that a sector paying increased attention to this is Energy. We are well aware that the level of support is very different across the energy sector. Employers with enhanced support should make sure they shout about it to their employees, not just for the reassurance it provides, but because this could be a major differential if they are to consider roles in another firm.

The familiar phrase ‘cash is king’ still rings true and salary will undoubtedly remain the most common driver for career change, however with raised awareness many employees are more likely to consider the bigger picture. Enhanced protection and a feeling that their employer will support them through any long-term illness may prove a deciding factor even above simple salary comparison.

Private Medical Insurance is proving to be a fast-growing employee benefit that is being added by many energy businesses in 2021. The pandemic has led to a significant increase in delays of treatment and of course this can then lead to employers having a reduced workforce as they wait for treatment or are sadly forced into extended sick leave.

Many recent reports in the press are highlighting the massive increase in NHS waiting times. Public Health Scotland for example revealed that in March 2021, a total of 94,781 patients were waiting for inpatient or day case treatment, with 61,901 having been on the waiting list for 12 weeks or more. That was an increase of 120% from the total of 28,118 recorded as waiting 12 weeks or more at the end of March 2020.

Figures from the NHS in England are shocking; 5.3 million are now on waiting lists with real fears that this could increase above 10 million when people actually start seeking treatment again.

It’s no wonder then, that many employers are looking to introduce private medical insurance to their workforce for the first time or review and enhance existing plans if affordable. There are clear benefits from an employee obtaining treatment at the earliest opportunity:

Key benefits of providing a private medical insurance scheme include:

  • Faster treatment
  • Non-emergency scans and tests available much quicker than the NHS
  • Access to treatment or medication not available on the NHS
  • Physiotherapy
  • Greater choice in treatment location and timing

Points for energy employers to specifically consider are wide ranging and not really able to be covered off in a single article. However, as a starting point they should be around the following:

  • Underwriting basis, having a medical history disregarded policy may be massively beneficial to employees who have suffered from previous or ongoing medical conditions, but this will come at additional cost
  • Does the employer want to fund the full premium, or will there be some employee offset?
  • Will it be open to all levels of staff?
  • Is the intention for the company to pay to include family members or will this opportunity be provided at personal cost of the employee (remembering that an employee who is living with concerns around the health of their partner or family may not be functioning to their best ability)?
  • Options are available to control costs, such as including an excess on the policy or including what is known as a six-week option
  • Larger employers may consider using a Private Medical Master Trust

As we’ve mentioned, salary will always be a leading factor in attracting and maintaining a quality team. However, the world is changing, since the events of 2020 people have new concerns, new priorities and a new outlook, and the startling NHS waiting times are just a fraction of this. People are looking at their overall ‘work life’ in a completely new light and businesses can’t be left behind when it comes to the care they provide to their employees.

To discuss private medical insurance and other employee benefit options please contact Richard Petrie or your usual AAB contact.

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