Terry Woolmer: Private medical insurance benefits both employers and employees


EEF’s annual sickness absence surveys have consistently shown that employers believe some form of incentive to provide private medical insurance (PMI) for their employees would be beneficial. In EEF’s Employee health: Making industrial strategy work for Britain – Health, work, wellbeing and sickness absence survey 2017, published in August 2016, just over a quarter supported financial incentives associated with PMI.

This reflects a finding from the same survey in 2015 that PMI was the most popular benefit offered to almost two-thirds of employees. A tax break for employers or perhaps some form of capped basic tax relief in corporate schemes would encourage greater take up of private healthcare.

There is no doubt that increased use of PMI would benefit employers and employees by enabling a faster return to work and improved productivity through giving workers prompt access to medical treatment. The private health sector takes the pressure off, and supports, the NHS by providing additional beds and treatment to reduce waiting lists so would also reduce the burden on the taxpayer and provide an overall benefit to society, enabling resources saved to be spent elsewhere.

Employers could highlight the benefits of such care to employees by promoting it as part of a wider work and wellbeing strategy, possibly alongside other health-related benefits such as annual health checks and screening.

Many studies show that those [organisations that] adopt a work and wellbeing strategy, which instills it in organisational strategy, achieve better performance, lower absence and improved productivity as a result.

Terry Woolmer is head of health and safety policy at EEF