Corporate cash plans are on the rise with year on year growth over the last 5 years. According to Corporate Adviser’s Workplace Protection & Wellbeing Report 2019, there were 1.48 million employees covered by corporate paid cash plans at the end of 2018. That is up from around 1 million just two years earlier.
The increasing popularity of the corporate cash plan may in part be because many intermediaries now include it in their reviews of clients’ employee benefit requirements. Cash plans form an important part of an employer’s benefit package due to their low cost but good return on investment.
Private medical insurance continues to be one of the most highly regarded staff benefits. However, for some companies the cost of providing this to all staff may be prohibitive.
Therefore, some companies may take a cash plan for all staff and a PMI policy for more senior employees and, unlike PMI policies, cash plan premiums do not tend to increase with age. Likewise, they appeal to younger employees as they are often seen as offering more usable benefits than other similar staff benefits. Therefore, they are appealing across all ages of a company’s workforce.
With cash plans you will get a set monetary amount for each benefit and employees know they will make use of them. The dental and optical benefits continue to be the most popular benefits. With the increase in charges for both, these benefits are welcomed by employees.
Cash plans help employers with their duty of care to employees, particularly if they have employees who use computers as a regular part of their job. Instead of offering vouchers for eye tests, the optical benefit under cash plans will allow employees an annual eye test.
Workplace absence can be caused by poor dental health as it can lead to absence due to dental problems or other longer-term medical conditions. If an employer can help an employee with dental costs it will be a worthwhile investment. Access to an NHS dentist is not easy so the dental benefit on a cash plan could assist towards the cost of private treatment, or normally cover the cost of NHS check-ups.
One of the reasons intermediaries have a role to play in advising on cash plans is due to the range of benefits now offered by these products. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, there are many others often including cover for various therapies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy, access to 24-hour Virtual GP or private GP service, and money towards prescriptions and specialist consultations. However, there are many added value benefits which people may not be as familiar with but have an important role to play in the workforce.
It is as important for an employer to look after their employees’ mental health and wellbeing as it is their physical wellbeing. Corporate cash plans can help with this as they will often include access to employee assistance programmes which offer confidential support and counselling on a range of personal or work- related issues. As well as online and telephone support, there may be face to face counselling available, all benefits which could really help with employee mental health. Although they will not offer the same level of cover as a PMI policy, these added value benefits offer easy access to help and support at point of need, which could be invaluable to employees.
When an intermediary is advising a client on their overall health and wellbeing strategy, it makes sense for cash plans to be included in this conversation. Many employers would not automatically think of a cash plan in this way, so it is the intermediary’s job to position it correctly. Depending on the company’s budget and how engaged they want to be in the health and wellbeing of their employees, cash plans are a real option to be considered. They are a low-cost option for the employer but can give a real return on investment as they are designed to meet the needs of everyday care.
The rise of the corporate cash plan looks set to continue.