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Is there a cure for the Healthcare and Wellness marketplace confusion?

Joining up the dots

Why are Insurance Companies and Intermediaries incapable of joining up Private Medical Insurance (PMI) and Group Income Protection (GIP)?  With the exception of Aviva, there isn’t a single insurer delivering both products, and even Aviva has two separate sales forces and administration teams. Most insurers run Group Life and GIP within the same division, often with the same advisors yet the two areas require very different knowledge bases and skillsets.  Clearly this is a hangover from the days of Final Salary pension schemes when GIP was designed only to offer an Ill-Health early retirement facility and PMI was a perk, not a Wellness tool, typically sold by ‘salesmen’ and not integrated into a benefit or wellbeing strategy.  But those days are long gone!

So whilst the insurance and advice industry hasn’t moved on, HR has had to. HR professionals have to manage PMI, Group Life, GIP, short, medium and long term absence and operate a coherent Health and Wellbeing strategy.  The poor HR professional has to learn multiple policies, benefit schedules, terms and conditions and claims procedures. In addition to this, {and don’t forget the many legacy policies they will have to remember}, they will be dealing with different companies, different divisions and a plethora of different advisors and contact points. And this is just the private sector.

Now let’s turn our attention to the public sector. After all the NHS is just another Insurer with policy terms and conditions and multiple access points, as are the policies offered by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP};  Long Term Disability, Fit for Work and the many tax regimes and support services available. All of these policies and services have to be understood by HR so they can be consolidated into whatever Wellbeing strategy is adopted.

Population growth

Recent research published by Laing & Buisson shows an increase in profitability in the Private Sector of 9%, 5% of which is attributable to NHS outsourcing.  BUPA UK reported  a 5% increase in revenues and experienced growth in all UK business sectors for the first time in 5 years.  This despite the discouragement offered by the UK tax regime. The DWP has noted that the ‘Fit for Work’ service “will complement and not replace existing occupational health services provided by employers”. What sort of messages are these; the public sector can’t cope with demand, go private with the public sector and it’s free, go private with the private sector and it’s taxed, here’s a nice new shiny Fit for Work service that is free, but keep your current provision too. Oh, and don’t expect too much from the DWP when it comes to claiming for a Long term disability!

storm clouds words

So if the insurance industry can’t join it all up, if the intermediaries can’t join it all up and if the Government can’t join it all up are we asking too much of HR?  Where can employers turn to for advice, support with proven solutions to this conundrum?

What’s needed are specialists who can:

  • get involved with the health needs of specific individuals at an early stage and they manage the delivery of services, both public and private, in a coherent manner.
  • use ’individual specific’ experience  to support and guide HR in developing a Wellbeing Strategy that joins the public and private sector policy dots to create a timely, efficient and financial beneficial approach.

We are not talking about old-style intermediaries as they don’t “broke”, but healthcare and wellbeing specialists that  are supported by medical experts and legal experts.  This specialist-led approach won’t change the tax regimes, won’t decrease the number of insurance companies and intermediaries.  It probably won’t totally eliminate duplication between public and private provision.  But it will assist HR to pass the Wellbeing buck to someone whose job it is to negotiate and navigate around all of the complexities of dealing with people, insurers and different policy offerings.

These people are called Case Managers – they are typically Healthcare Professionals, and are expert and practised in aligning the needs of the ultimate end user, the absent employee, and enabling a seamless conduit to an effective and optimised return to work, by joining up those wayward dots, and making relevant and appropriate use of PMI, GIP, NHS, Employee Health Management, Brokers, Legal Support, and supporting the beleaguered HR professionals who need this all to happen.

End the confusion

This is exactly the space into which the HCB Employee Health Management team fit, and exactly why we want to provide Employee Health Management – as distinct from Occupational Health services, simply to provide a practical solution to join up the dots.

 

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Sources:

Britains healthiest workplace (Sunday Telegraph)

Key statistics on the NHS (NHS Confederation)

Kings fund – UK private health market

PMI needs IPT increase like a hole on the head

LaingBuisson’s Healthcare Market Review (28th ed.)

Private medical insurance demand falls