Buyer’s guide to health screening 2013

Employees and employers can both gain from an effective health screening programme.

Whether it is a simple blood pressure or cholesterol check, or a comprehensive health and fitness assessment lasting hours, health screening can help to keep a workforce fit and healthy.

Health assessments, which can be provided on-site or at the provider’s premises, deliver a number of benefits to employers and staff. Screening can help identify potential health problems at an early stage, so steps can be taken to reduce the problem, making this a valued perk for staff.

The opportunity for early intervention also has benefits for employers. Having a healthier workforce improves productivity and engagement and helps to reduce health insurance claims. And, because health screening is a valued benefit, it can also boost recruitment and retention.

Anonymised feedback

Although the results of a health screening are confidential, general anonymised feedback can enable employers to shape health initiatives. For example, if health screening reveals that a high percentage of employees are overweight and have poor diets, an employer could help turn this around by introducing a healthy-eating campaign.

The cost of health screening depends on how comprehensive it is. Some providers offer assessments starting at as little as £35 per employee, but these tend to cover only basic checks, such as height and weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.

A comprehensive assessment, which includes more in-depth and tailored tests, such as a prostate check for men over 50 and a cervical smear and breast examination for women, can cost between £200 and £500. And top-of-the-range health screenings, such as those often provided to executives, can cost £600-plus.

Staff more at risk

Employers must also consider how often to provide screenings. Some like to offer an annual test to those considered more at risk, such as staff aged over 40 or to key executives, but most employers will make a screening available every two years or so.

Whatever the price, health screening also has tax advantages. Providing employees receive no more than one screening a year, it is not classed as a benefit in kind and there is no tax or national insurance liability.

It is also possible to gain an insight into staff health without screenings. Online health risk assessments are offered free through some medical insurance schemes and health cash plans.

Employers can also help their staff with the cost of screenings with a health cash plan. Many plans include some contribution towards health screening.

But although this benefit can make a useful contribution towards the cost of health screening, employees will have to pay towards it too, which can significantly reduce the likelihood of good take-up.

STATISTICS

29% of employers provide health screening as a core benefit

43% of employers think health screening helps to reduce sickness absence

Source: Employee Benefits/Cigna UK HB Healthcare research 2012 (June 2012)

THE FACTS

What is health screening?
Corporate health screening is a range of assessments that can help identify health risks. This can help to safeguard employees’ health by identifying potential health issues that may benefit from early intervention.

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Where can employers get more information?
Information on screening and tests that are recommended at different ages can be found on the NHS website. Details of some of the providers are available here.

Who are the main providers?
Main providers include Axa PPP Healthcare, Blossoms Healthcare, Bluecrest Health Screening, BMI Healthcare, Bupa, Company Health, Corazon Health, Healthy Performance, Health Shield, iHealth, Lifescan, Medicash, Medifit, New Leaf Health, Nuffield Health, Prevent, Randox Health, Relaxa, Screenetics, Serco Occupational Health and Westfield Health.