Health cash plans among employees’ preferred benefits

A third (35%) of respondents ranked health cash plans among their top-three preferred benefits, according to research by PMI Health Group.

The research, conducted with global research consultancy TNS, found that, among this 35% of full-time employees, 11% ranked cash plans as their most valued benefit overall, behind contributory pensions (25%), life assurance (15%) and private medical insurance (PMI) (12%).

However, respondents who earn less than the UK average salary of £26,200 (according to the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) 2011 Annual survey of hours and earnings survey), were slightly more likely to value cash plans over PMI. Some 39% rated cash plans as their most valued benefits, compared with 38% who cited PMI.

The research also found that overall health benefits, including health cash plans, health screening, PMI, critical illness insurance, income protection and employee assistance programmes, accounted for 47% of respondents’ preferred benefits.

Mike Blake (pictured), director at PMI Health Group, said: “The emergence of cash plans as a preferred benefit is somewhat unexpected considering their low cost when compared to alternatives such as contributory pension schemes, life insurance or PMI.

“But the research proves they maintain a high perceived value among employees, making them an extremely viable option for organisations attempting to construct a competitive benefits package in the current climate.

“The economic downturn has caused many employers to re-evaluate their offering in the face of growing cost pressures. However, a more versatile approach, combining elements such as PMI and pension schemes with cash plans, can help to extract greater value from an investment in benefits.”