Private medical insurance, or PMI as it is known in an acronym-loving industry, is frequently cited as one of the most popular employee benefits. But organisations, and SMEs in particular, sometimes don’t take it up as they think it’s too expensive. Not only is it more affordable than they think, the wider benefits of offering PMI far outweigh the upfront costs to provide it.

  1. Reduced absence

One of the most widely understood benefits of PMI, is the ability to access medical appointments promptly. This benefits all parties involved, as individuals can put their mind at rest – knowing that a health concern is being dealt with quickly – and for the employer, their employees can get swift treatment and be able to return to work more quickly. As talent is the backbone of many businesses – especially for SMEs – encouraging healthy and rapid returns to work is in everyone’s interest.

PMI provides greater flexibility around appointment times too, enabling employees to work around their commitments more effectively. This means that time out of the office for health appointments can be reduced and health issues tackled quickly, mitigating the chances of a minor health issue turning into something more serious as well.

  1. Financial support

Being sick is a costly business for all involved. Monies spent on treatments, prescriptions and cover for time off work can all add up. SMEs are especially vulnerable here, as part of the attraction of working for a caring, smaller organisation is knowing that they’ll likely have your back in a worst-case-scenario situation. Many SMEs shoulder financial and emotional burdens when an employee is sick, by helping to pay for treatments and rehabilitation and providing support to loved ones.

PMI can take care of this responsibility, offering financial support to employees by covering payment for medical treatments, for example. Employers can also provide employees and their families with emotional support, through added-value benefits such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs) that offer confidential counselling services. It alleviates businesses of the additional pressures associated with an employee getting ill, whilst maintaining excellent levels of support to the individual.

  1. Attraction and retention

Research found that 78% of candidates said they would be more likely to apply for a job if the benefits are well communicated, and 66% of employees claimed they’d be more likely to stay with an employer that provided good benefits. With PMI regularly featuring at the top of employee’s wish lists for employment packages, it can act as a great recruitment and retention tool. But it is crucial that businesses communicate the excellent employee benefits they offer, to gain this buy-in, during all aspects of employment – from recruitment advertising to ongoing engagement and motivation activities. Reminding employees that they can access PMI, with added-value benefits such as discounted gym membership and travel insurance, highlights how their employer is supporting them in both their personal and professional lives.

  1. Affordability

What inevitably it comes down to, for businesses, is whether they can afford PMI as a benefit to employees. Working with specialist providers and brokers can help here, to ensure that premiums are affordable whilst employees have access to excellent healthcare benefits. Advisers can talk through the importance of spreading risk, for example, by encouraging take-up of PMI across differing ages of employees within the business, and using the scheme effectively, to help keep premiums down further. With so many added-value benefits included in many PMI schemes too, it can all add up and give much better value than employers may realise.

With people living longer than ever before, and careers resembling marathons instead of sprints, health is the one thing that underpins a long and healthy lifestyle. Through offering PMI, employers are encouraging employees to take care of their health, in turn, benefiting from a healthier workforce that the scheme promotes.

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