16 July 2018

Millennials don't see the value of private healthcare

Millennials may be missing out on significant benefits associated with private medical insurance (PMI), as their youth can make them feel invincible and they opt for other benefits, according to The Health Insurance Group.

Engaging a diverse staff demographic with employee benefits can be a challenge for employers. Staff will traditionally find some benefits more relevant - according to their circumstances, whether they have dependants, and their age. The experience of consultants within The Health Insurance Group is that it can be difficult for employers to engage their younger staff with healthcare, when other benefits may be more appealing, and as such, they can miss out on the benefits of private healthcare.

Popular benefits for millennials

Benefits such as claiming back for dentistry via cashplans, fresh fruit Fridays and cycle-to-work schemes, are popular amongst millennials as the benefits are instantly relatable, easy to understand and accessible. Which means that other seemingly more complicated benefits – such as PMI – can be overlooked. But the benefits and costs of PMI are not always clearly understood, with many simply being put off by the fact that it’s a ‘taxable’ benefit.

Actual costs of PMI

The reality is that an annual £300 PMI premium for a younger employee, where the individual is paying 20% of that premium, would equate to it costing just £5 of their salary each month. This can then give the employee access to significant PMI healthcare benefits, for example swifter medical appointments and therapies.

PMI can be better value

Many PMI schemes also include popular added-value benefits, such as discounted gym membership and travel insurance, particularly favoured by millennials, so can often give much better value than many realise.

An example of where an employee may not know they could access better value is with gym membership. An employee might be happy to pay £50-£100 for a monthly gym membership but in fact isn’t aware that their company PMI may include a 50% discount on a gym. Therefore, an employee could be better off by taking the company health insurance and get the associated gym membership included.

Increased likelihood of ill-health in the young

Another reason millennials can overlook PMI, is because they believe they are less likely to suffer from ill health in comparison to older generations - so they don’t see the need for healthcare cover. However, a report by the Health Foundation* warns that millennials could be the first generation to suffer worse health than their parents when they reach middle age due to “lifestyle diseases” such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. In fact, cancer incidence rates in young people have increased by more than a quarter (28%) since the early 1990s** and obesity in adults is expected to rise to 70% by 2034***. PMI can offer support with early diagnosis for health issues, early intervention and subsequent treatment, as well as healthy eating and exercise advice to prevent many concerns arising in the first place.

Brett Hill, managing director, The Health Insurance Group said: “Providing holistic health and wellbeing to employees is great to support and encourage a happy and healthy workforce. However, it’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure that employees understand how the benefit can be applicable to them, so they can utilise them when needed.

“Communication plays a central role here, for employees to fully understand how benefits can positively impact their lives. Targeted information which highlights typical scenarios according to age groups can really help. For example, PMI can mean fast-track access to health screening - which may appeal to older employees, and it can also mean discounted gym membership - particularly of interest to younger members. Whether offering employee assistance programmes (EAPs) or group income protection, mental health support or PMI, tailoring communications can really help to engage employees and aid take-up in benefits.”

* https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/millennials-worse-health-parents-middle-age-a8405931.html

** https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/young-peoples-cancers

*** https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/childhood-obesity-applying-all-our-health/childhood-obesity-applying-all-our-health