Watkin Davies, an insurance broker serving individuals and SMEs across South Wales, recently broadened its product offering to include Equipsme, a new kind of health insurance designed for the whole of the workforce.
With employment in Wales at a record high, there is healthy competition to attract and retain the best talent with measures that go above and beyond salary. A recent survey by HiBob showed that 41% of employees want private health care, a benefit second only to flexible working.
Commercial benefits await the businesses that invest in staff health and wellbeing. According to the CBI, health-related absence costs SMEs £782 per person per year. Minor illnesses, such as colds are the biggest cause, totalling 34.5% of the working hours lost to illness in 2017, with a further 17.7% due to musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, and joints) issues, such as back problems, and 7.6% resulting from stress, depression or anxiety.
Here, Watkin Davies managing director Gina Dixon tells us more about why SMEs, including her own company, are investing in the health and wellbeing of the staff.
Gina, what’s different between Equipsme and traditional private health insurance?
Equipsme is affordable and practical, focused on helping people to get well sooner and to stay well. It’s a standout benefit for SMEs to show they care about their staff.
The plans are simple to understand and help staff from Day One. The entry-level product, at £7 per employee per month, includes an online health check, access to a GP by phone or video 24/7 and up to three physio sessions. Businesses pay the same for all members of staff on the plan, regardless of age, and there are no lengthy medical history questionnaires. Diagnosis and treatment can be added to plans, and staff can also choose to add family members.
Why would somebody buy health insurance when we have the NHS?
The NHS offers a terrific service. However, there is always more we can do to help working people to access healthcare services in a more convenient and timely manner. It could be talking to a doctor at the weekend instead of waiting to try to get an appointment on Monday morning. It could be a shorter wait for physio treatment for a bad back. It could be a speedier diagnosis of cancer, which can speed up referral to the NHS for treatment. It all helps and alleviates the worry of waiting for an appointment and not knowing what’s wrong. That sort of practical support is something employees really value from their employers.
What about mental health support?
There’s been a cultural shift towards encouraging staff to talk about any mental health problems and for employers to support them. In my experience smaller business owners care about this as much as a large employer, but it can be harder for them to access the right support.
Equipsme addresses this with a stress support line for £1.50 per employee per month, offering telephone appointments with trained counsellors and up to five face-to-face sessions. It isn’t restricted to work-related problems. It could be anything from depression following a relationship break up through to the stress of money worries. According to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, 37% of organisations say that they have seen an increase in workforce stress over the last twelve months and we’re certainly seeing a high interest from local businesses for the stress support line.
Why did you buy Equipsme for the staff at Watkin Davies?
We’re proud to be customers as well as distributors. This was the perfect product to support the wellbeing of our 48 members of staff and we can personally vouch for how well it works, both in terms of how easy it is for employers to implement, and then how easy it is for staff to access the healthcare benefits.
What feedback have you had from other SMEs in South Wales about health plans?
It’s quite different to a standard Health insurance product and we’ve had a positive reaction. It’s part of our job as business advisers to understand the needs of our clients and think outside the box a little bit. In addition to their Business insurance we talk to clients all the time about other risks their businesses can face, for example, a piece of equipment or vehicle breaking down, a healthy and happy workforce is just as important to many clients.
Equipsme is designed for businesses that want affordable health insurance for their whole workforce. Most of its customers are SMEs from across the country who recognise people as their most important asset, and health and wellbeing as one of the top benefits that people value.
The NHS does things extremely well. Especially after patients have received a diagnosis or in an emergency. Where working people are most frustrated by its service is waiting times to see their GP, diagnosis referral and physiotherapy. Equipsme was set up to address this head on. Its health insurance and support plans are designed to provide value to businesses and their staff from the very beginning.
The entry level plan, for £7 per person per month (PPPM), includes access to a remote GP service with NHS-registered doctors 24/7, private physiotherapy appointments via AXA PPP’s network, an online health check and access to AXA PPP’s nurse helpline.
For £17 PPPM, private diagnosis is added, and for £29 PPPM so is private treatment.
The price is the same for all employees aged 16 to 69. There are no long health history questionnaires to complete, just a simple exclusion of pre-existing medical conditions in the last three years.
Customer figures demonstrate that Equipsme meets a real need by providing fast and flexible access to healthcare.
For example, nearly one-third of employees with Equipsme cover used the remote GP service in the last year. Of those, 84% received a diagnosis or action (such as a referral) in the first appointment. 30% called in the evenings or at weekends.
That beats waiting for a week to see your GP and is a tangible benefit that businesses of all sizes can use as a recruitment and retention tool.
Watkin Davies Insurance Consultants
15 Penlline Road
029 2062 6226