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Navigating employee healthcare benefits in the UK – a comprehensive guide

Posted: 31st October 2023

Navigating employee healthcare benefits in the UK – a comprehensive guide

Employee benefits play a key role in attracting, retaining and engaging a talented workforce. Among the range of benefits, healthcare should be the foundation of a comprehensive employee package. Quality healthcare is highly valued in the UK, therefore, offering robust health and wellbeing benefits can significantly enhance your organisation’s appeal. Let’s look at the intricacies of employee health and wellbeing benefits and explore the importance, types, and advantages they offer to both employees and employers.

The importance of employee health and wellbeing benefits

Attracting top talent

In a competitive job market, prospective employees often seek positions that provide comprehensive health coverage. Robust healthcare benefits can be a differentiator when it comes to attracting the best and the brightest.

Enhancing retention

Providing healthcare benefits demonstrates your organisation genuinely cares about the wellbeing of its employees – this commitment can lead to higher job satisfaction and employee loyalty.

Reducing absenteeism

Access to healthcare benefits encourages timely medical attention, potentially reducing the duration and frequency of employee absences.

Boosting productivity

Healthy employees are generally more productive. Healthcare benefits ensure employees can address health concerns promptly, minimising disruptions to their work.

Types of employee healthcare benefits

Private Medical Insurance (PMI)

Private Medical Insurance provides employees with fast access to private healthcare facilities

(in outpatient, day-patient and inpatient settings) and expedited medical treatments for ‘acute’ conditions, and can cover consultations, diagnostics (such as MRI and CT scans), therapies, surgery, and specialised treatments such as cancer drugs (some policies will include drugs not available on the NHS). PMI not only focuses on your physical health, but also support for mental health, together with digital GP access.

Health Cash Plans (HCP)

Health Cash Plans offer a fixed amount of benefit per year to reimburse you for a range of routine and everyday medical expenses, such as dental care, optical services, and therapies. These plans may also cover costs towards prescriptions, health screenings, and alternative treatments. Many of these plans provide additional employee wellbeing support online or via apps, together with access to retail perks and discounts, which can make all the difference when we are all up against the current cost of living crisis.

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

EAPs  offer  confidential  counselling  and  support  services  to  help  employees  manage personal and work-related issues that may affect their wellbeing.

Health assessments

These provide employees with a snapshot of their current state of health, arming them with the information to make better, healthier lifestyle choices.

Advantages for employees

Access to prompt healthcare

Health insurance ensures employees can receive timely medical attention, without facing long wait times.

Peace of mind

Knowing they are covered for unexpected medical expenses gives employees peace of mind about their health and finances.


Health assessments may help to spot potential health issues and allow early intervention. They can also give the employee the tools to improve health and reduce risks of issues such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.

Health Cash Plans can encourage employees to keep on top of dental, and optical health, reducing the potential for more serious problems. Similarly, access to physiotherapy, chiropractor and osteopath therapies can help to prevent minor musculoskeletal issues from becoming significant problems.

Choice and control

PMI schemes often allow employees to choose their preferred doctors, specialists, and hospitals, giving them control over their healthcare decisions.

Wellness initiatives

Many PMI and HCP schemes include wellness programmes to promote healthy lifestyles, encouraging overall wellbeing.

Benefits for employers

Employee retention and recruitment

Offering  healthcare  benefits  improves  the  overall  benefits  package,  making  your organisation more attractive to both current and potential employees.

Productivity and engagement

Healthy employees are more engaged and productive. Healthcare benefits can contribute to a more motivated workforce.

Reduced absenteeism

By supporting employee wellbeing and ensuring prompt medical attention, healthcare benefits can help reduce employee absenteeism due to health-related issues.

Positive company culture

Providing healthcare benefits demonstrates a commitment to employee wellbeing and contributes to a positive company culture.

Tax efficiency

In the UK, employer contributions to healthcare benefits are a taxable benefit-in-kind, but they can be more tax efficient than higher salaries due to National Insurance savings. An exemption is allowable for health assessments – an employer can fund one health screening and/or medical check-up, per year per employee.


Employee healthcare benefits are a strategic investment that not only addresses the health needs of your workforce, but also positively impacts recruitment, retention, and overall organisational success. In the UK, where quality healthcare is a societal value, providing robust healthcare benefits can differentiate your company as an employer that prioritises the wellbeing of its employees. As you navigate the landscape of employee benefits, remember that investing in health and wellbeing is an investment in the long-term success of your business.

Joanne Aitken Healthcare consultant Mattioli Woods

07393 149977

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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