• Richard Skeates

Health and Wellbeing providers respond to market disruption, but has the market?

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Demand for employee Physical and Mental Wellbeing services is increasing, as is the need for Companies to fulfil their ESG commitment. The H&W industry is responding rapidly to the market disruption. The scope, scale and ultimate cost of products can be daunting, but not if you are an H&W industry specialist.

There has been good innovation, particularly around digital GPs and Counselling. Whilst face to face suits many, the majority welcome the convenience and immediacy of online or telephone consultations, “in the moment”.

These services now frequently include dependants living at home, and why not given the pressure that housebound children can bring to working parents.

Corporate clients, and advisers have access to useful management information around number of claims, trends or simply whether products are being used. If low claiming, could modules be swapped for more appropriate options. Is the scheme well communicated, and are employees able to easily access advice? Apps are now everywhere and access to instant H&W care, advice, and claims submission is at the fingertips, or should be.

For both virgin and renewing SME schemes, current products are becoming more flexible with modules and options to build unique plans appropriate to a particular corporate membership, culture and claims history.

There is nothing wrong with claiming, in fact it should be encouraged if there is recognised need, provided scheme costs can be managed both in the short and longer term. Too many policies have initial discounts which inevitably disappear over time. The scheme then becomes too expensive, is paired back to basics, and doesn’t deliver.

We love co share as a cheaper and more equitable alternative, and it delivers sustainable cost in the long term. We also like transparency by way of deductibles, being refundable if claims are low.

We applaud some providers offering immediate Covid premium refunds, rather than a wait and see approach, conditional on renewal with the same provider.

A well-considered Health and Wellbeing strategy is appropriate, effective and well used. It must deliver value for money to the Company and the membership. Too many legacy plans are obsolete, and unloved in today’s employment market.

A root and branch review is probably the last thing on some HR teams agenda in these difficult times, but need not be onerous with a proactive H&W specialist reviewing whole of market. Specialist up-to-date advice is also critical in delivering corporate ESG obligations. A strongly positive ROI is delivered by reducing like for like premiums, and delivering positive practical benefit.

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