Employee benefits provider Aceso Health and Group Risk, whose national headquarters are in Leeds, has reported a record rise in enquiries from employers about health insurance and private ‘virtual GP’ appointments, with enquiries increasing by more than 65% in the past 12 months.
In March, NHS England reported a nine-fold increase in the number of people waiting more than two years to start routine hospital treatment, up from 2,600 people in April 2021 to 24,000 in January this year. Over 6 million people now find themselves in queues for routine medical procedures such as hip and knee replacements.
The firm, which is part of the Attis Insurance group and has a further five offices across the north of England and the Midlands, says the rate at which it is fielding calls from employers investigating the costs of providing health insurance for employees has risen exponentially in the past year.
“Not only are we seeing a huge uplift in calls and emails asking about health insurance as a staff benefit but we are also seeing a real democratisation in the types of employees that employers are looking to provide this benefit for,” said Aceso executive director Mike Picken.
“Whereas in the past health insurance was seen as something of an elite benefit that would tend to be offered exclusively to senior employees, now we are seeing employers looking to provide it as a benefit for the whole workforce. We are now being approached about employee health insurance by organisations of all sizes and across pretty much every sector,” added Mr Picken.
Fellow Aceso executive director Louise Pratt said: “ With so many people struggling to access beleaguered NHS services, partly due to the knock-on effect of the pandemic, more and more of those who can afford it are opting to go private.
“Clearly that is an option that’s only available to the relatively well off but this explosion in demand for health insurance as a workforce benefit is opening up opportunities for more and more people to get health issues resolved swiftly, while also relieving some of the pressure on NHS services that are under such severe strain.
“At a time when attracting and retaining the best people is more challenging than ever for employers, employee benefits packages, including health insurance, are increasingly being seen as an essential part of a ‘total reward statement’ that savvy employees are coming to expect.
“Not only is it a way for employers to show they value staff and want to invest in them, access to private medical services such as virtual GP appointments is helping to reduce staff sickness and enabling a more rapid return to work when someone has been off due to accident or illness.”