New insurance policy – Zurich LiveWell Diagnostics – looks to remove the cost barrier for employers to private medical cover. This is an aggressive move from Zurich and will be a big draw for millions of UK working citizens. Employers can retain staff like drivers, or essential maintenance staff, with perks like this scheme too of course. However, once diagnosed, employees will still be sent into the malfunctioning NHS healthcare machine – that is not a great outcome right now.
- Zurich UK enters UK private healthcare insurance market with new affordable group cover offering fast-track access to diagnostics
- This solution blends private access to specialist consultations and diagnostics with NHS treatment
- The cover is available with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions and no out-patient limits
- Policy comes as the number of people in England waiting for diagnostics test hits 1.2 million
Zurich UK has announced the launch of a new cost-effective private medical insurance product to help open up healthcare cover for more employers.
The new group policy, known as Zurich LiveWell Diagnostics, offers employees private access to specialist consultations and clinical diagnostic tests, before referring patients for treatment under the NHS. Developed by Zurich UK’s Accident & Health team, the policy looks to bring private healthcare into reach for firms that find full medical cover too expensive as well as those that want to offer healthcare benefits to more of their workforce.
By providing faster access to critical tests such as MRIs, CTs and ultrasounds, the cover sets out to speed up access to healthcare treatment.
It comes as the number of people waiting for diagnostic tests in England reached 1.2 million at the end of March, according to the latest figures from NHS England. Despite this, just 11% of the UK population has some form of private medical insurance.
Stephane Baj, Zurich’s Head of Accident and Health, said: “Timely access to a GP or specialist consultant can be subject to lengthy waiting lists, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet at the same time, we know it’s often too expensive for firms to offer full medical plans to employees outside of senior management.
“Our new policy aims to plug the gap between basic healthcare benefits, such as virtual GPs, and more costly full medical plans. It offers an affordable alternative for employers that want to extend private healthcare to employees – from shopfloor workers to delivery drivers – who have not typically enjoyed these benefits before. By providing early access to healthcare, it can help firms to improve employee wellbeing, reduce the number of days lost to sickness and maintain their productivity.”
Zurich UK designed the product, which targets firms with at least 250 insureds, in consultation with three major employee benefit providers. The policy costs from £190 to £310 per employee, which is between 25% and 40% of the cost of a full group medical product. This is the equivalent of as little as 52p a day per employee.
The cover is available to all employees, with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions and no out-patient limits.
It includes access to major UK private medical networks and offers case management and handover to the NHS or private medical options for treatment.
Under its higher levels of cover, the insurance product offers access to virtual GP appointments, physiotherapy, mental health counselling and a second medical opinion. Employees are also able to access a digital app, which includes health goals, interests, trackers, toolkits and health content to support their mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing. The app doubles as a gateway for quickly and easily submitting claims. The app is provided by Zurich LiveWell Services and Solutions Ltd as a separate service from the insurance policy offered by Zurich UK.
It comes at a time when firms are facing a rising tide of workplace absence. The number of working days lost to long-term sickness hit 80 million in 2019, having increased by 19% over 10 years, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Baj added: “With rates of long-term sickness rising, and hospitals facing a backlog, private medical cover can play a role in fast-tracking access to clinical diagnosis. At a time when some employers might be forced to cut back on staff benefits, this solution also gives companies an option for cover that could otherwise have been lost altogether. As the pandemic brings a renewed focus on health, investing in private healthcare could pay dividends in attracting and retaining the best talent.”