It is a word that is often overused, but the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has been ‘unprecedented’. One of the sectors in particular that has experienced a significant amount of upheaval has been the group medical insurance industry.
In addition to supporting employers and employees adapt to working remotely, the sector has also seen NHS waiting lists rise to their highest levels since records began. With many NHS hospitals stretched to their limits as a result of the pandemic, the private hospital sector has played a key role by offering additional support. However, this has caused many private hospitals to pass their own capacity, which has left insurers and brokers needing to manage customer expectations.
Nevertheless, research shows that interest in private healthcare has experienced an uptick since the start of the pandemic. Indeed, a poll by Consumer Intelligence found that before the pandemic, 15% of respondents said they had considered paying for private treatment or insurance. This figure rose to 27% when the survey was conducted again in June.
We’ve previously written about how the majority of employers are increasing their health and wellbeing offerings, so the extra interest revealed by the Consumer Intelligence survey perhaps shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
The way insurers have adapted throughout the pandemic should also be highlighted. With the strict social distancing guidelines that were implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as the advice for older individuals to stay at home as much as possible, new ways of providing healthcare were a must.
Fortunately, many insurers recognised this need and implemented suitable solutions accordingly. As my colleague Claire Ginnelly, Premier Choice managing director, commented: “Many added virtual GP, counselling and triage benefits to support employees during the pandemic and they were also good at offering payment holidays and rebates to employers.”
Claire also pointed out that while some Premier Choice clients have been forced to rethink their group private medical insurance offerings due to economic pressures, the vast majority are “resurrecting” their policies with a view to benefitting from the new inclusions.
With insurers adapting their offerings, and continued uncertainty in the face of the ongoing pandemic, taking advantage of advisers guidance has never been more pivotal for businesses.
The expertise of advisers can help employers find the right health and wellbeing options for them. One-size-fits-all solutions rarely afford the flexibility many businesses need, which is why choosing the right product is so important.
At a time when many employers will be reviewing their health and wellbeing benefits to check they are not only competitive in terms of cost, but also provide what their employees want and are a good fit for the organisation, advisers will be a key part of those conversations.