5 Reasons to Offer Health Insurance as an Employee Benefit

5 Reasons to Offer Health Insurance as an Employee Benefit
5 Reasons to Offer Health Insurance as an Employee Benefit

Health insurance has long been considered one of the most valuable employee benefits a business can offer. Ping pong tables and free beer in the office might make good social media posts, but in reality what most employees want is for their health, finances and futures to be protected and cared for.

At a time when people in Ireland are facing long waiting lists for hospital treatment, as well as rising bills and food prices, offering fully or partially funded health insurance as an employee benefit can be a highly effective way to attract, retain and care for employees across all demographics.

Here are our top five reasons why businesses of all shapes and sizes should consider offering health insurance to their workforces.

1. Speedier Recovery and Access to Care

In Ireland, waiting lists for public hospital treatment are becoming a growing concern – and, sadly, the situation doesn’t look likely to improve any time soon.

Just last week, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association said clearing the backlog of 907,000 patients waiting for hospital care after the pandemic could take 15 years. While the actual wait times faced by individuals will no doubt vary depending on their condition, as well as the facility and type of care they’re waiting to access, it seems inevitable that patients will be waiting longer for treatment in the years ahead.

When it comes to healthcare, patience isn’t really a virtue. Longer waiting times could cause health conditions to deteriorate and vital diagnoses to be delayed or entirely missed, while the individual continues to see their life disrupted and their suffering prolonged.

By providing your workforce with access to comprehensive health insurance, you can help them to get the care they need, when they need it, through access to private hospitals and consultants. With health insurance doubling a patient’s odds of waiting less than 3 months for outpatient appointments, and tripling the same odds for inpatient treatment, the right health insurance policy could help your workforce to access care, and recover, more quickly.

Of course, when your employees are healthier, they are much more likely to perform at their best and take fewer days in sick leave. So, while your employees benefit from quicker healthcare and better health, your business can boost productivity and performance through fostering a healthier workforce.

2. Preventative Care

Health insurance is more than a safety net for when your employees become unwell – it can also help prevent sickness by supporting them to create a healthier lifestyle and spot the signs of illness sooner.

All three health insurance providers (Laya Healthcare, Vhi and Irish Life Health) offer an online GP service, so policyholders can speak to a doctor about any concerns sooner, rather than later. Many policies also offer screenings for certain conditions, such as Laya’s HeartBeat cardiac screening and Vhi’s cancer screening service, helping your employees to catch any issues early. Additionally, Irish Life Health offers a Back-Up programme, helping policyholders to access early intervention for back or neck problems to reduce the risk of more serious issues later down the line.

By protecting your workforce with the right health insurance and proactive health interventions, you can help reduce the risk of serious illness for certain conditions – keeping your employees healthy and performing at their best.

3. Improved Financial Wellbeing

People in Ireland face the highest healthcare costs in the EU.

With costs continuing to rise across the board – particularly for essentials like energy and food – many people are having to stretch their incomes further than ever before. As a result, in the coming months many could find they can no longer afford to pay for their own health insurance or medical bills.

Helping to fund your employees’ health insurance could be hugely valuable to your workforce in the difficult months ahead, relieving some of the financial burden many are experiencing already. Even if you’re unable to fully fund policies, offering a partially funded policy for employees to opt into could be a massive help as people try to reduce their bills.

Additionally, when an employee receives fully or partially funded health insurance as an employee benefit, they’re usually entitled to a rebate from Revenue of up to €200 a year in tax credits. This tax relief can be claimed for up to four years prior to the claim being made, so be sure to let your employees know they could be eligible if you’re already funding their health insurance policy.

4. Attracting and Retaining Talent

In the current job market, we’re seeing many companies across a wide range of industries struggle to recruit the skills they need. It’s become an employee’s market, meaning candidates can be more selective about which companies they apply to, and which offer they ultimately accept.

While salary and flexible/remote working arrangements will play a huge part in their final decision, the employee benefits on offer are becoming increasingly important to jobseekers. They want to be assured that their health, finances and futures will be taken care of – and that means having the right employee benefits in place.

Last year, a survey of over 1 million employees across Ireland, conducted by Morgan McKinley, identified health insurance as the most important benefit desired by employees, alongside pensions. However, health insurance ranked as just the 5th most offered benefit.

So, by adding health insurance to your employee benefits offering, you could be better positioned to compete with other employers being considered by candidates, helping to attract more talent to the business while retaining your existing staff through providing truly valuable benefits.

5. Additional Policy Benefits

In addition to helping your employees access care, treatment and health screenings to support their health, many health insurance policies offer a range of additional benefits to help care for your workforce.

Most policies will include access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), offering mental health, financial, legal and overall wellbeing supports to employees free-of-charge.

Various resources are also available to help people improve their overall health and wellbeing. For example, Irish Life Health policyholders can access their MyLife App, which features a personalised AI coach to help users make healthy changes and awards points for achieving set goals. Laya members can access their Healthcoach programme, offering health checks, online health assessments, money back on dietician consultations, and a tailored fitness, nutrition and wellbeing programme.

While supporting your employees to improve their physical health, health insurance also helps to care for mental wellbeing – such as through discounts on meditation and mindfulness apps, a range of resources to help people improve their mental health, and access to 24/7 counselling over the phone.

Health insurance can be expensive, especially when you’re funding policies for an entire workforce. But there are a few different options for payment schemes when you’re looking at corporate health insurance:

  • Company Paid: this is when your company pays for your employees’ policies in full as an employee benefit, usually with preferential rates from the insurance provider.
  • Partially Company Paid: this means you share the cost of the policy with the employee, provided they have opted into the scheme. You may still be able to access the insurer’s preferential rates.
  • Advice Only: in this instance, you negotiate a health plan package, usually with a discretionary discount with the insurer, which your employees can choose to join and pay for themselves. So, while they’re still paying the bill, they benefit from preferential rates to help them manage costs.

Even when paying for your employees’ health insurance in full, the returns can often justify the investment. Higher employee retention and recruitment rates, boosted engagement and company loyalty, improved performance and productivity, and reduced sickness absence can all be achieved with the right health insurance policy for your unique workforce.

If you’d like to discuss any of the above, or would benefit from expert guidance in comparing, selecting, implementing and managing health insurance policies, please get in touch using the form below or by emailing support@eppione.com, and our team at Eppione will be happy to help you.