How can employee health screening benefit your business?

As an employer, you have a duty to care to protect your employees' health. The right employee health assessments can help you go further and build a healthier workforce. Here's our guide to employee health assessments and how health insurance can help.

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This article was written by:
Chris Steele
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.

What are employee health assessments?

Some health screening checks are legally required depending on the type of work you do and the associated health risks. For example, you must provide eye tests for staff working with display screens or hearing tests if noise levels in your working environment warrant it.

However, health insurance provides access to a broader range of health screening assessments that go beyond occupational health assessments and can help support employees' health and wellbeing.

The benefits of employee health assessments

Occupational health assessments focus on specific work-related health risks. However, a health screening programme helps employees learn more about their general health and wellbeing. The information a health screening provides can encourage employees to make positive lifestyle changes, which benefits them and your business.

For your employees

Employee health screening from your insurer checks your employees' overall health and wellbeing. Health screenings provide information to enable staff to set goals and avoid health issues in the future.

A health insurers' screening programme also provides support through accountability calls and wellbeing resources.

For your business

Offering health insurance as part of your employee benefits package demonstrates your commitment to staff wellbeing and can make you an employer of choice, improving job satisfaction and staff retention. You'll also benefit from reduced workplace absences, better mental health, and a more productive workforce when you provide health screening services.

Graphic outlining the benefits of regular health screening. Content includes information about detecting problems early, enabling early treatment and motivation to live a healthier lifestyle.

What kind of health assessments can health insurance provide?

Providing health insurance as one of your staff benefits can enable you to provide health screenings for specific issues or general health checks. It can be a cost-effective way of meeting your legal duty to offer eye or hearing tests to certain employees. There are also a variety of health screening checks, with varying levels of investigation.

Eye tests

Most business medical insurance policies offer the option to add optical cover, which pays for regular eye tests and glasses or contact lenses if needed. Optical cover typically comes as part of a package with dental cover.

Optical and dental check-ups provide health screening for vision problems or dental issues but can also act as an early warning system for other issues. For example, dental check-ups can identify early-stage oral cancers, and eye tests can show signs of diabetes, allowing employees to seek treatment before their condition becomes more serious.

Hearing tests

Some insurers offer hearing cover along with their optical and dental cover. These aren't a replacement for employee health screening, as the results will remain confidential unless your employee shares them with you. However, it can enable them to get a hearing aid if they need one. You should still carry out their regular occupational health assessment as usual.

General health assessments

Employee health screenings offer various checks, including core screenings. You can choose an enhanced health screening check if necessary. For example, if employees' work requires a minimum fitness level, you can include fitness health screenings. If your work is stressful, health screenings could include mental health checks. Many providers also offer men's health or women's health screenings.

A basic assessment will measure an employee's height, weight, and body fat percentage, calculating their BMI and waist-to-height ratio. It will also include a mobility and flexibility check and blood pressure and blood sugar checks to test for diabetes. If your employee is a current or recent smoker, they'll also receive information about their lung age.

What information will you receive from your health insurer?

After each health screening, your employee will receive information about their general health and wellbeing and any health issues. Depending on your chosen provider, they may also signpost your employee to further treatment and resources that can provide support.

You'll receive statistical information to maintain employee confidentiality, which allows you to identify patterns and act to improve employee health.

Ways to use employee health assessment data

The information you receive from health screenings can help you to improve your working environment and make changes to support employee health and wellbeing. Here are a few ways you can use the data.

Making changes to working patterns

Employee health screenings can help you identify a need to change employee's working patterns. For example, working long hours without enough breaks can impact physical and mental health. You may notice increased eye problems or musculoskeletal issues because your employees spend too long sitting down staring at a screen. Alternatively, mental health challenges can arise due to a stressful work environment or lack of work-life balance.

You could address these issues by encouraging staff to take regular breaks or offering flexible working.

Improving the office environment

Improving the office environment has a positive impact on mental health. Other issues can result from chairs that impact good posture or display screens positioned in a way that causes eye strain.

Health screening data can be a reminder to review workplace risk assessments and checks.

Providing wellbeing support to individuals

Mental health issues can lead to high levels of workplace absence. If your workforce shows signs of stress, you can provide support by adding an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to your health insurance.

An EAP provides confidential counselling, allowing staff to discuss their mental wellbeing without worrying about the impact on their career. If you already have one and stress levels remain high, you can focus on promoting the service to increase engagement.

Designing workplace wellbeing initiatives

A workplace wellbeing plan and initiatives help you tackle common issues. You can run engaging workplace training on wellbeing topics, run healthy cooking demonstrations or organise activity sessions such as lunchtime yoga or a staff walking group.

Your insurer may be able to support you in designing suitable initiatives.

Introducing new benefits

Some employee benefits can have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing. For example, you can promote healthy eating by providing healthy snacks.

Incentives such as the Cycle to Work Scheme can encourage staff to increase their activity levels by promoting a more active commute.

How much does health insurance cost?

If you want to invest in health insurance and benefit from health screening for your employees, you're likely wondering how much it will cost. Health insurance premiums are an allowable expense for corporation tax purposes. Your premium cost depends on various factors.

The average age of your employees

Our risk of health problems increases as we age, meaning your health insurance will cost more the older your employees are.

The number of employees you want to enrol

Enrolling more employees will increase the overall cost but give you a lower premium per head as your insurers can spread their claims risk across more people.

Your location

Private healthcare costs vary across the UK and are typically higher in London and other major cities due to higher wages and facilities costs. If you're in central London, you may also need to pay more for an extended hospital list so your employees can receive treatment at a convenient location.

The industry you work in

If you work in a high-risk industry, such as construction, you'll pay more than if your staff are mainly office-based.

The level of coverage you need

Health insurance policies typically offer core coverage and various optional extras that you can add to give you a more comprehensive range of benefits and treatments. For example, an Employee Assistance Programme is typically an optional extra. The more you add, the higher the cost will be.

Policy Underwriting

Most health insurance excludes pre-existing conditions that your employees sought treatment or advice for during the five years before they joined the policy. Moratorium and full medical underwriting exclude pre-existing conditions for the first two years. If you have full medical underwriting, your employees must provide health information when they join, but not if you have moratorium underwriting.

Full medical underwriting is typically slightly cheaper. However, to ensure your employees can access treatment regardless of their medical history, you can choose medical history disregarded underwriting. This covers pre-existing conditions but is typically the most expensive option.

Policy excess

You can reduce your premium by adding a policy excess, meaning your employees will pay for part of their private treatment themselves.

Consultant and hospital choice

Most policies offer a standard hospital list showing which hospitals and treatment centres your policy covers. You can reduce your premium by choosing a guided consultant list, which offers a more limited choice. Alternatively, you'll pay more if you need an extended list which covers major cities or central London.

Getting professional help

At MyTribe, we aim to help you learn more about business health insurance and the benefits for your employees and company. However, our guides are no substitute for bespoke advice. Contact us for a comparison quote, and we'll put you in touch with a specialist, regulated broker for tailored advice.

Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

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