But shouldn’t HR professionals really be looking towards corporate health planning and what can be done for employees before, rather than after, the event? Health as a duty of care, not a perk?

Health Plans aren’t Health Insurance.

The first thing to make clear is that Corporate Health Cash Plans are not the same as Health Insurance. Health insurance helps pay medical bills when someone falls – usually seriously – ill.

Health Plans are there to encourage employees to stay healthy, helping with month-to-month bills from opticians, dentists, chiropractors and so forth. Now, keeping employees healthy makes good and obvious HR sense, but what’s on offer, and which of the many schemes are most likely to make most sense for your business?

Employee funded plans.

Employee funded plans cost the employer nothing or very little and they offer universal coverage, that’s to say most don’t exclude on the basis of age or medical history (though you should check before choosing).

They allow employees to claim back all or part of their everyday healthcare once they submit a copy of a bill they’ve incurred. Aside from cost, the HR advantage is that these schemes actively encourage employees to stay healthy – the manual worker will have no financial qualms about visiting a chiropractor – and the office worker none about that second pair of glasses to work on-screen.

What to look for.

You’ll be asking your staff for a monthly contribution – so it must be clear that they’re getting value for money. Some schemes cover 100% of costs – other less – and that’s the first thing to look for.

But how quickly they pay is important, as are any annual cash limits. Any employee will be less than pleased with their perk if it fails to pay out when they expect it to. And look for a scheme that includes family members, it’s a great way for a company to demonstrate it really cares about the well being of its staff.

If you care about their family, you certainly care about them.

Employer Funded plans.

When an employer funds a plan, employees are more likely to blame them than the provider if something goes wrong – so again it’s worth choosing carefully.

A good scheme will include all the key benefits, like 24/7 GP access, an employee assistance programme that helps with personal problems, and cover for family members. These plans also have a high perceived value among staff despite a relatively low cost to the organisation – and that gives HR a significant edge when it comes to staff retention.

Losing that health plan safety net will figure high in their thinking when it comes to changing jobs – especially if their family is covered.

What to look for.

Look for a scheme that is as automatic as possible, that registers new employees when they join and that won’t involve HR in loads of new admin. And remember too that these schemes are there to promote good health, so those that include good clear communications to your staff are more valuable to you than those that don’t.

Above all look for a plan that’s as comprehensive as possible, from a company with a reputation for fairness.

So how do I judge?

Once you’re clear about which kind of plan suits your business, you’ll need to decide between them, and that’s not always easy. However, there are common features across all plans that can give a good steer.

Payout Rates.

The first thing to consider is payout rates. Providers that pay out 75% of the money they take in are generally regarded to be good, and anything above 80% to be excellent.

Most plans are non-profit making so they should be easily able to achieve these figures – and make them available to you.

Key Performance.

Ask about key performance indicators, these may differ from provider to provider making direct comparisons difficult, but they should be available and they should be published.

Satisfaction scores are particularly valuable and give a good guide to how your staff will be looked after – and check how long after the event claims will be honoured. Some cut off claims after just four weeks, which can frustrate and upset staff.

Regular reviews.

Look for a robust and regular review process. One that not only shows if you’re getting value for money but also flags any underlying staff problems. Has there been a rash of chiropractor appointments, or a sudden increase in requests for counselling?

This could mean underlying problems and any responsible provider should have a process in place that reveals these at review.

Limits and restrictions.

What can you claim, and what can you claim for. Most schemes have a percentage limit on individual claims and a cash limit on how much can be claimed each year.

That means that those that reimburse 100% are not necessarily fairer than those that don’t – if they set the annual limit too low claims will not be paid in full or even rejected– if it’s set artificially high it may look like good value – but your staff will never reach that level of claim. And do check those limits are annual – not biannual.


Avoid lock-in clauses. Cancelling should be relatively simple and quick – three months notice is reasonable and there should be no financial penalties attached. The same goes for the claims process where simple and speedy is best.

Ideally the majority of claims should be turned round, without quibble, in 48 hours.


Obviously the more that’s covered the better, and the more that’s included in the core price better still.

Services such as Employee Assistance Programs aren’t just nice to have extras – they can be a very effective tool in supporting the HR function, so look out for plans that already have them included – it will save you time & money in the long run. .

In the end though, who you trust and feel comfortable with will be just as important as the figures and the facts, so ask around, talk to colleagues and compare reputations as carefully as you compare prices. Corporate Health Plans are valuable; take a little time and you’ll get the best value from them.