Health cash insurance (cash plans)

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Health cash insurance (sometimes known as health cash plans) is a simple and affordable way to help your employees claim money back on the cost of everyday healthcare, such as dental treatment, eye tests, physiotherapy and much more. There are limits on benefits either by an agreed amount or as a percentage of treatment costs. They can be paid for by you or your employees on a monthly basis, and they are designed to be used regularly. They encourage people to seek and receive early medical investigation and treatment. 

Who do I cover?

You can include everybody in the business, or allow people to choose to join the scheme. There are no medicals and few insurers seek medical information.

The need for health cash insurance

Everyday health expenses are increasing. Whether they use the NHS or go private, everybody has everyday health care costs such as glasses, contact lenses, dental check-ups and treatment, prescription charges and physiotherapy. Health cash insurance can help make treatment much more affordable, particularly for individuals and families struggling to stretch the household budget.

Why consider health cash insurance?

A healthy workforce is a happy workforce - employees feel valued and so are motivated, productive and loyal. Health cash plans are quick and easy to implement. They work particularly well for employers looking to reward and retain their staff with a useful health benefit that fits with their budget.  Even the most routine dental, optical or medical treatments can end up costing money. Bills can soon mount up; prescriptions or an overnight stay in hospital, and this is where a cash plan can really be of benefit.
Benefits for the business:

  • Simple-to-understand cover at an affordable price.
  • Offers a tangible employee benefit.
  • Helps attract and retain talented and skilled staff.
  • Helps fulfill your duty of care to employees.

Cash plans will help you reduce sickness absence by encouraging people to have check ups and seek treatment for health problems. Employees can be putting themselves at risk by delaying non-urgent healthcare and putting off treatment or avoiding visits to their doctor or dentist for fear of the costs they might incur. Working below par makes employees less efficient and less helpful to your customers.
Benefits for employees:

  • It's a useful and valuable employee benefit.
  • Helps with the cost of everyday healthcare.
  • Reliable healthcare information online and on the phone.

Partners and children

Some insurers automatically include partners and children, while others offer it as an extra, while some only offer business cover to those working in the business. If workers are worrying about health problems of their partner or children, then their mind is not going to be fully on their work. Taking care of their families takes the pressure off.

What health cash insurance covers

The range of treatments covered by a healthcare cash plan is now wider than ever. Health cash insurance tends to offer a pre-set list of benefits, although some insurers do allow options to include or exclude certain covers. The key areas usually covered are:
ental check-ups and treatment, including hygienist appointments. 

  • Eye tests and prescription glasses or contact lenses. 
  • Chiropody.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Osteopathy.
  • Maternity cash, paid when a child is born.
  • Chiropractics, homeopathy and acupuncture by a registered practitioner.
  • NHS cash benefit for each night in hospital
  • Cash paid for each night spent in hospital.
  • Cash paid when a parent spends the night in hospital with a sick child.
  • Special consultation fees of a consultant physician or surgeon.
  • Annual health screening.
  • Cash paid in the event of accident or death.

Some plans cover may include:

  • Reflexology.
  • NHS prescriptions cash.
  • Surgical or hearing aids.
  • Mental health payouts.
  • Occupational therapy.
  • Adoption grants.
  • Chinese medicine.

Help and assistance

Most insurers offer 24/7 online and/or telephone information. Other services may include:

  • Discounts on healthcare, healthy living and shopping.
  • Stress helpline.

Benefit limits

Most insurers offer a benefit limit that is not per visit, but is a total limit over the 12 months of the policy. Some insurers provide a 2 year limit on certain benefits, so if somebody has the bad luck to have to pay for healthcare or go into hospital on several occasions in one year, but none the next year, on a 12 month limit they may hit the limit of payout a lot sooner than on a 2 year basis.

How health cash insurance works

People covered are totally free to decide where and when they are treated. They arrange and pay for their healthcare appointments and then send a receipt to insurers with a completed claim form. Insurers usually pay claims within a few days. 

Health cash insurance and business health insurance

Most insurers offer health cash and business health insurance as separate policies, while a few insurers can add a health cash plan as an option to a business health insurance policy. If you have both, you need to ensure there are no obvious gaps in cover.

Some health cash policies offer a benefit or option to pay the voluntary excess on a business health insurance. Insurers and advisors are divided as to whether or not this is a good idea or removes the purpose of having an excess. 

Treatment overseas

Some insurers only cover planned treatment in the UK. As it is up to the individual covered to decide where to get treatment, some insurers allow treatment anywhere in Europe, but only pay towards treatment costs, not travel or accommodation.

Differences in cover 

Insurers vary greatly as to what they cover or offer. No two policies are the same. Research is required to find cover that works for you and your business.

Pre-existing conditions

A pre-existing condition is any disease, illness or injury for which a person has received or is receiving medication, advice or treatment; or they have experienced symptoms. Some health cash plans will not cover expenses relating to any pre-existing medical condition, either on all the policy or for selected areas. 

What health cash insurance does not cover

Cash plans only help with the cost of treatment, not provision, so people still have to seek and arrange treatment for themselves. Most policies do not cover all expenses, only a proportion, and each benefit has an annual limit. Almost all policies have a waiting period of three to six months before people can begin to claim benefits, which rises to ten or twelve months for maternity. They often exclude cosmetic treatment and soft contact lenses.

Saving money

Your choice of cover will affect what you pay. You may have the option of including or excluding specific benefits. Several insurers offer a range of benefit limits on policies. This can depend on the number of people covered and how much cover is chosen. Generally the premium is fixed at the same level for all, regardless of their age or the number of claims that they make. It is always best to get two or three quotes from different sources, and ask each of them about anything that is unclear.


Insurers may include free cover for children under 18. Some insurers will include children in further education up to 25.


Insurers vary as to whether they will cover people up to any age or whether they have restrictions on acceptance age, or even age at which cover ends; common ages are 60, 65 or 70. 

The difference between a health cash plan and health insurance

A health cash plan offers money back on everyday healthcare bills, like trips to the optician, dentist or physiotherapist, up to annual limits. Health insurance covers for tests and treatment for acute medical conditions. 

Asking employees to share the costs

Group health cash plans work in three ways:
1.    Company paid: the employer pays the entire premium 
2.    Voluntary: individuals buy cover by employee salary deduction
3.    Part paid: where both employer and employee pay a share.

Always ask your insurer which options they offer, then check the legal and tax position with your accountant. Employer-paid cash plans may be treated as a benefit in kind for tax purposes.

Helping you choose

There are many health insurers offering cover for smaller businesses, and often they have a range of products or options, and this can be confusing. The key areas of difference between plans are the number of benefits, the limits, and the percentage of costs paid (which can vary from 50% to 100%).You can go direct, or go via a specialist insurance intermediary. Some intermediaries charge fees as well as taking commission. If using an intermediary it is preferable to use a health insurance specialist, and to ensure that they have access to several insurers and are not just tied to one or two. As well as using their specialist knowledge, they often have access to insurers and plans that you cannot buy direct as a customer

Thinking about getting PMI for businesses?

Download our free PDF guide



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A guide to health insurance for small and medium businesses

  • Business health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Business travel insurance
  • Health cash insurance  (cash plans)


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