Advisers and employee benefits consultants have said they expect private testing for Covid-19 to become a product feature of corporate healthcare plans in future.
PCH managing director Claire Ginnelly points out that there were “ethical and moral issues” for the private sector paying for such tests at present, when there was such a shortage of tests being undertaken for frontline NHS staff.
She points out that there are also practical reason at present why this can’t be done, with capacity to test and availability of components being an issue.
However she says that as we move out of the crisis, this situation may change – with insurers, or third parties potentially offering these services.
Barnett Waddingham associate and head of benefit consulting David Collington acknowledged these ethical concerns, but says it seems likely in future that healthcare providers in the private sector will have a role in helping to facilitate testing, particularly as a means of helping many employees back to work.
“However, tests need to be more widely available int he NHS first, to shift public opinion on this issue.”
A central ethos of a good health and wellbeing policy is paying upfront for policies that offer effective treatment to get staff back to work – in order to benefit the business over the long term.
Ginnelly adds: “Clients will want to know how they can facilitate testing of staff. It may be a huge benefit to them and help get people back to work.
“It might be wrong to do so at the moment, but this may not be the case in future. If these tests become more widely available then people will want to buy them, and will talk to advisers and providers about how this can happen.”
Engage Health Group international director Ian Abbott also points out that this is also issue for global insurers, particularly as some countries may require evidence that travellers and those working overseas are Covid 19-free before allowing them to cross borders.
He says: “There is going to be global demand for these tests, and huge variability between countries on the availability and the capacity to conduct these tests.”
This will have a significant effect on costs – for both state-run healthcare systems and private providers. However he says as these become more widely avaialbe he would expect costs to come down.
Private providers may also have a role to play in offering Covid-19 vaccines as and when this becomes available. Again cost could be an issue, depending on where a vaccination is developed. As Abbott points out if this is via one of the large US pharmaceutical companies then this could prove more costly as this is a copyright driven environment.
Benefiz founder and director Tim Gillingham points out that insurers and private healthcare providers already have a model for offering such services. “Many firms will pay for their employees to have the flu vaccine every year and will provide funding for that. Some offer cashback to those who get the vaccine elsewhere. This could be a model for a potential Covid-19 vaccination.”