Employee Benefits - Healthcare Cash Plans
With recruitment and cost of living a challenge for employers to manage, I've recently seen an increase in employers introducing a 'Healthcare Cash Plan' for their employees as a means of providing additional benefits for employees without adding additional cash directly to pay.
A Healthcare Cash Plan is a low cost benefit which allows an employee to claim back some of the cost of everyday healthcare such as Dental and Optical fees as well as other therapies such as Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropody. There's often the inclusion of mental health support and counselling, all of which can be accessed without a GP referral providing immediate and confidential support that your employees can access at a time to suit them.
There's varying levels of cover and most employers join the employees and pay for a minimum level of cover from around £7 per month per employee. Most schemes offer the inclusion of the members children with no additional cost and there's also an option for employees to upgrade themselves to a higher level of cover and pay the additional premium directly to the provider.
Even the minimum levels of cover provide cash worth reclaiming. Depending on the provider, Dental and Optical cover is usually £50-£70 within a 12 month period and there's no minimum membership time before being able to claim.
So how does it work?
Quite simply, the employee goes for treatment, pays the bill and then reclaims the cost (up to the cover level) directly from the cash plan provider.
If the employee is accessing the mental health support and counselling there's usually no cash or payment element for and this freely available to employees.
Most schemes also provide access to retailer discounts providing additional 'cash in the pocket' support for employees and making the most of their pay.
Children can be included into the cover free of charge, usually up to 18 as long as they are in full time education.
What are the Costs?
There's a number of providers in the market, and prices can start from around £7 per month per employee.
If the scheme is paid for by the company then this is considered to be a 'benefit in kind' and therefore attracting BIK tax. This should be discussed with your finance team or accountants, as should the employers NI cost on providing the benefit.
However, even with these liabilities, the cash plan is generally seen as a low cost provision, but always take advice from your finance professionals before committing!
Is there a lot of admin?
In short, NO! Other than work with your account manager to set up the scheme, there's very little for you to do.
Once the scheme is set up, the employees deal directly with the provider for all claims and queries. Cash reclaimed is paid directly to the employee into their bank account so there's no involvement in payroll – it's a win:win!
If your company is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you may be interested to take a look at the plan that they offer in partnership with Westfield Health and you'll be able to access as part of your membership benefits.
If you'd like to consider an alternative, there's many out there, but a couple of the most well known providers are Healthshield and Medicash.
What are the next steps?
If you like what you've heard so far, it's really a case of finding a provider and enquiring about their scheme. You'll find the links to the scheme mentioned below. You'll find most providers very helpful and the set up process straight forward.
However, if you'd like to chat to me about how these schemes work and avoid a sales call until you're ready to take the next step, please let me know!
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