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12 benefits of health insurance for employees and employers

It’s a common company perk, but what are the benefits of health insurance for employees and for your business?

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7 benefits of health insurance for employees5 employee health insurance benefits for employersHealth insurance benefits for employee mental healthA better way to care for employee mental health

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  • There are a lot benefits of providing health insurance to employees, including faster access to treatment, personalised care, and access to private facilities.
  • Employee health insurance benefits physical and mental health as many policies offer mental health cover, too.
  • Employee health insurance benefits extend to employers, too by reducing the number of days off taken for sickness, attracting and retaining top talent, and improving company productivity.

In the UK, employee health insurance gives your workers additional healthcare options beyond the NHS. It’s often offered as part of an overall employee benefits package and enables your team to use private healthcare when needed, for free.

The health insurance benefits for employees are clear to see: quick access to treatment, flexible appointment times, the use of private facilities, and general peace of mind all contribute to improved wellbeing. But is it the right option for your team? A survey by Ciphr found that while 21% of employees want health insurance as a perk, almost double, 40%, want mental health support. And that figure tallies with Mercer’s finding that 51% of employees want an insurance or programme that specifically reduces the cost of mental health treatment.

Let's take a look at the benefits of providing health insurance to employees (and employers) and assess how the mental health coverage offered by health insurance providers really cares for your team.

7 benefits of health insurance for employees

Providing health insurance for your employees allows them to benefit from everything private healthcare has to offer: flexible appointment times, faster access to treatment, private facilities, and plenty more. But it isn't just an advantage for your team — as a business, you'll benefit from a reduction in sickness absence and improved productivity, while retaining and attracting top talent.

1. Employees have faster access to treatment

With the latest figures showing a record 7.6 million on the NHS waiting list, 59.2% of whom have waited more than 18 weeks for treatment, it’s perhaps no surprise that waiting times for GP and hospital treatment consistently rank as the public’s biggest concern when it comes to the NHS. And for the millions of people waiting for non-urgent procedures, this delay can significantly lower quality of life and wellbeing. One of the main benefits of employee health insurance is that your team can skip the queue to get treatment within a matter of weeks, significantly accelerating their recovery process.

2. Employees can be diagnosed quicker

Most employee health insurance plans include cover for 24/7 access to a GP as well as diagnostic tests like blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, and biopsies. When a health problem occurs, your employee can use your company’s health insurance to quickly get a diagnosis. And the sooner they’re diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. 

3. Employees choose who treats them, and where

Getting private medical care via employee health insurance is an inherently more personal experience: health insurance companies have a network of hospitals, treatment centres, clinics, and specialists. As a result, your employee can choose exactly where they want to be treated and by who, adding a level of control that makes the whole process a lot more comfortable.

4. Employees are treated in private facilities

Using private healthcare means your employee can benefit from medical facilities that are often far more luxurious than their NHS counterparts. As well as a first class level of care, private patients can expect to be treated in an environment that offers a few home comforts, such as a private room during hospital stays, complete with an en-suite, television, extensive food menu, and toiletries.

5. Employees can get treatment without a GP referral

When a health problem crops up, the usual course of action is to go to the GP: if they think further medical care is needed, such as by a specialist clinic, they’ll write a named referral letter. This letter will be sent to a specific consultant at a particular hospital. And that’s when the wait for treatment begins. Another benefit of private health insurance is that it’s often possible for employees to get treatment without needing a GP referral, removing one step in the process to speed up the diagnostic and treatment process.

6. Employees can get medical care at a time that suits them

Many of the services for everyday life follow the 9-5, making it difficult to get help out of working hours. Most (if not all) employee health insurance plans include 24/7 access to medical advice: whether that’s a health phone line or the option to speak to a GP, your team will be able to get medical care at a time that suits them.

7. Employees can avoid losing income due to illness

Statutory sick pay entitles your employees to £109.40 a week for up to 28 weeks, but what happens if it takes longer to get treated? According to the latest figures, 6% of the 7.6 million people on the NHS waiting list have been waiting for over a year for treatment (that’s nearly half a million people!). And if they’re unable to work, that’s a serious financial problem. One report even suggests that people on long sickness absence are losing an average of £2,200 from their income a year. By having access to employee health insurance, your team can speed up their recovery, meaning they’ll be back to work faster, reducing the financial cost of their health problems.

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5 employee health insurance benefits for employers

Of course, it’s not just employees that benefit from having group health insurance at work: employers do too (and not just because they get health insurance as well). 

An employee health insurance plan is one of those perks that has a positive effect on the overall business — here are five benefits of company health insurance for employers.

1. Your company will see a reduction in sickness absence 🤒

With access to faster treatment and recovery support, your team will take less time off work due to sickness. This is good for every company but if you’re a small company, you’ll feel the effects of this even more. In a small team, there’s fewer people to pick up the slack when someone’s off sick – but with faster treatment, employees will return to work sooner, easing the pressure on the rest of the team. Plus, your team won’t have to take time off just to attend a GP appointment.

🧠 Mental health challenges are the biggest cause of absenteeism in the workplace, accounting for 42% of all sick days taken in the UK.

2. Your company will attract top talent 🏆

Wellbeing at work is a hot topic, and it’s on the workforce’s mind: 74% of employees say improving their wellbeing is more important than advancing their career. By offering company health insurance, you’re not only signalling that you care about your employees as human beings, but you’re actively helping them to have a better quality of life. Employees are taking note of wellbeing perks and benefits, and employee health insurance is one that will help you stand out from the rest.

🧠 81% of employees say they'll be looking for mental health support in their next job search.

3. Your company’s productivity will improve ⚡

A positive side effect of reducing your company’s sickness absence, having access to private healthcare can improve your company’s output. Think about it: with people taking less time off work and generally feeling better for longer (short waiting times for treatment mean people won’t still be working while not 100%), productivity levels won’t take as much of a dip. Plus, employees that feel valued at work, tend to be happier, and happier employees are thought to be 13% more productive.

🧠 Presenteeism — showing up for work despite not feeling well (and therefore not being as productive) — is the highest cost of mental health to companies and is very common: 54% of employees admit to working while feeling mentally unwell in the past year.

4. Your company will retain loyal employees 🫶

When employees feel cared for and supported, they’re happier to give more of their time and energy to the company. By committing to support your employees’ wellbeing, you’ll see an increase in engagement, loyalty, and retention. Staff turnover isn’t cheap: it’s thought that the cost of replacing a member of staff earning £25k/year is around £30k. Wrack up multiple leavers in a year and you’re looking at a big financial hit.

🧠 65% of job leavers say their decision to quit was driven by the dip in mental health that they experienced while in the role.

5. Your company could save money 💰

Before we say it, we need to be clear that you absolutely must speak to your accountant, tax advisor, or HMRC directly to understand the tax implications of offering employee health insurance. But, company health insurance can be beneficial from a tax perspective because it's classed as a business expense and is therefore eligible for tax relief. Be mindful that there are lots of rules that we won’t go into here (but we do in this article solely devoted to the cost of employee health insurance), so be sure to understand exactly what the tax implications are for you and your team.

🧠 Proactive mental health screening and personal therapy sessions have the highest return on investment when it comes to supporting employee wellbeing: for every £1 invested, companies experience returns of £6.30.

Spill surveys the wellbeing of your team every week with a team meeting integration and then proactively gets mental health support to those in need.

See how Spill works

Health insurance benefits for employee mental health

When we talk about employee wellbeing, there seems to be a divide: physical wellbeing and mental wellbeing. But really, the two go hand-in-hand. Mental health challenges can lead to a downturn in physical health, and vice versa. With large numbers of employees saying they feel exhausted (52%), stressed (49%), overwhelmed (42%), lonely (33%), and depressed (32%), employee mental wellbeing is — and has to be — a priority for companies wanting to seriously support their workers. 

So, what are the benefits of providing health insurance to employees when it comes to mental wellbeing?

🫶 Employee health insurance gives your team peace of mind

It’s no secret that life since the pandemic feels harder: on top of life’s (many) other challenges, the cost of living and general state of the world are adding to the mental burden. And for the 79% of people worried about their finances, missing time off work for a health reason (that includes dental and optical reasons, too) only adds to the problem. 

Company health insurance offers a way to help ease some of the mental anxiety your team may be carrying. With quick and free access to private medical support, they won’t have to worry about long waiting lists, living and working in physical (or emotional) pain, or missing multiple days of work (and income) as a result. If something were to happen, they’ll get the care they need.

💙 Employee health insurance can remove the barriers to getting mental health support

With one in six people experiencing mental health problems at work, employers are recognising the need to support their team’s mental health. After all, 12 billion working days are lost to depression and anxiety. And in the UK, poor workplace mental health costs employers £56 billion

In response, many business health insurance policies now include some form of mental health cover in addition to the physical health cover. This ranges from a set number of counselling sessions to mindfulness app access and self-help resources like articles, guides, and videos. With this cover, health insurance companies are hoping to reduce the barriers to getting mental health support, letting employees get the help they need quickly. 

A better way to care for employee mental health

While the idea of having mental health support in addition to physical health support sounds pretty good, the question (well, questions) we’d like to pose is: can health insurance do both well? Or is it better to enlist a specialist provider to make sure mental health is properly supported? And if you have to prioritise, which form of support is more impactful?

While a lot of business health insurance policies now offer counselling sessions, access to mindfulness apps, and other well-marketed self-help resources, actually getting the type of treatment that works (i.e. the counselling), can be tricky. Plus, there’s a lot of small print: most policies exclude pre-existing mental conditions from getting support and the ones that have waived this rule still exclude learning, behavioural, and developmental difficulties from their mental health cover. So, people living with ADHD, OCD, bipolar disorder, autism, and many other conditions that have a huge impact on everyday life are locked out of getting the mental health support that is vital to their wellbeing.

Mental health support also comes in two forms: there’s the treatment of the symptoms and then there’s the treatment of the root cause. The reactive support offered by health insurance (i.e. an employee has to realise they need help to then go and get it) tends to treat the symptoms: an employee who is having trouble sleeping or is consumed by anxious thoughts may seek support once they’re feeling desperate.

But if you want to support your team by treating the root cause of mental health challenges, you’ll be helping them understand their symptoms and learn how to prevent them from worsening in the future. And that’s where a dedicated therapy solution can do a much better job.

Take Spill for example. 

We partner with companies to give employees effective therapy that’s free at the point of access. The company pays a monthly sum (and yes, you really can cancel anytime: there’s no long-term contracts here) and your team can instantly access Spill therapists and benefit from next-day virtual sessions.

So far, we’ve supported over 30,000 employees with more than 65,000 sessions of therapy. 

To us, that’s a big responsibility and one we take very seriously. Our five-stage hiring process means your team can access the top 13% of registered therapists, and with over 80 areas of expertise in our ranks, they can speak to someone who specialises in their struggles — including targeted support for ADHD, OCD, bipolar disorder, autism, and other developmental, behavioural, or learning conditions. 

But the main point of difference is our proactive approach to mental health care

Consider a struggling employee. With health insurance, they’ll need to first realise they need support and then take the step of actually contacting the provider. At that point, they’ll have to speak to someone on the phone who will assess their symptoms. After that, they’ll find out the recommended treatment and even then, it only might be therapy. And if it is, that therapy may start days later.

With Spill, your team will get proactive care: a short team mood survey attaches to a recurring meeting and our unique algorithm finds the people in your company who are struggling. A Spill therapist will get in touch to offer personal support and if they want, your employee can book a therapy session for as soon as the next day. 

A screenshot of Spill's Safety Net feature
Spill Safety Net asks your team to score their mood out of 10 before the meeting

A screenshot of Spill's Safety Net feature
After scoring their week out of 10, your team can choose to acknkowledge specific feelings

Known as Spill Safety Net, this proactive care bridges the gap between what company leaders think they know and what’s really going on. A recent report from Deloitte has found that while 67% of employees say their wellbeing worsened or stayed the same last year, 75% of leaders believe their team’s wellbeing improved. Clearly there’s a disconnect and proactive mental health support, along with clear usage data, is the only way employers can really trust that the people who need it are getting the right support.

Here’s how else you and your team can benefit from therapy with Spill:

🖥️ Add therapy to your existing tech stack with Spill’s Slack and MS teams integrations

🤫 Speak freely knowing every Spill therapy session is completely confidential

🧠 Book a one-off session or a longer course of therapy, or message a therapist

📊 See detailed usage reports to take control of your spending

🌎 Get therapy in 15 languages across eight time zones

🤝 Choose a therapist based on their gender, language, and area of expertise

✅ No exclusions — absolutely everyone can have therapy with Spill

💸 Cover a few struggling employees or support the whole team

Invest in the most impactful benefit for your team

There’s no doubt that there are a number of health insurance benefits for your employees and for you, but be sure to keep in mind why you’re offering it. Physical healthcare can be a wonderful perk to offer, but don’t underestimate the impact pure mental healthcare can have on your team and your business: it’s an investment worth prioritising if you want to really see and feel the impact of these benefits.

Why does health insurance benefit employees?
What are the benefits of providing employee health insurance for employers?
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Download our free health insurance evaluation checklist

Make sure you're asking the right questions when buying an employee health insurance plan (or weighing up the one you already have)

Check how much it would cost to boost your team's wellbeing by providing next-day access to mental health support.

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