"Brokers are key in raising awareness about all the benefits of a healthcare trust over PMI."
We spoke to Ian Talbot, CEO of Healix Health Services, about how a corporate healthcare trust differs from private medical insurance and helping clients adjust to a post-Covid world.
FR: What does your role at Healix Health Services involve and what does your typical day look like?
As general manager, I am responsible for leading the executive team in delivering the best possible service to our clients. Part of that is taking the lead on our proposition development, adjusting and adapting it so that it consistently fits our clients’ needs and objectives. This means regularly scanning the market to develop the best solutions while maintaining flexibility to face changes in the market.
Day-to-day, mornings are usually spent catching up with senior management to ensure I am fully up to date with all the key developments across the business, and afternoons are focussed heavily on interaction with our clients to ensure we’re delivering the best possible service.
FR: Tell us a bit about Healix Health Services’ proposition and why it is important?
A corporate healthcare trust is a HMRC approved alternative to private medical insurance (PMI). Instead of paying premiums to an insurance company, the money is placed in a trust fund which is then used to pay employees’ private medical claims. At the end of the year, any remaining fund balance can be saved to help meet claims spent in the future, rather than being lost in huge premiums.
The trust can also provide cover for things that might not typically be included with an insurance product. Things like women’s health, including fertility and menopause advice, long-Covid or counselling can be covered within a trust when they might not otherwise be.
In a nutshell, the employees get all the benefits of PMI in a way that is much more cost effective and flexible for the employer.
FR: What are Healix Health Services’ main aims or focuses for 2021?
Our key focus at the moment is helping our clients adjust to what is hopefully a post-Covid world. That means understanding how the healthcare needs of employees have changed in the past year and then providing the best solution for employers to address those needs. Our goal is to continue growing while reaching businesses that are struggling with their existing medical benefit provision.
With so much having changed in the last year, giving employers tailored and bespoke solutions will be key - one size will not fit all in the post-covid world.
FR: What trends do you expect to see within the healthcare insurance and trust sector this year and has that changed as a result of Covid-19?
New dynamics are expected to come into play within benefit design. What worked before the pandemic will not necessarily work now and that means increasing flexibility is going to be even more central to any offering.
The pandemic has also thrown the link between health and productivity into the spotlight. Previously, health related benefits might have been the less attractive ones for staff, but Covid-19 has caused a lot of people to re-think their priorities, from both a physical and mental health perspective. Forced to work from home almost overnight, many workforces have had next to no face-to-face contact for over a year and staff have felt far removed from their colleagues and friends. This not only affects their mental health, but also how they engage with their benefits and, ultimately, their engagement with their job.
Those in HR and the benefits world were mostly aware of this before, but the last year has proven just how vital these factors are in the success of any business. Wellbeing is moving from a ‘nice to have’ to a vital requirement as a result of the difficult year we have been through.
FR: What role can brokers play in raising awareness of healthcare trusts among corporate clients?
Brokers are key in raising awareness about all the benefits of a healthcare trust over PMI. Offering a trust should be considered for most corporate clients that spend over a certain amount on their medical benefits. It might be that PMI is the appropriate solution, but brokers need to deliver a consultative approach and having an awareness of trusts means they have a better understanding of what solutions are best for each client. More clients might be open to alternative, cost-effective options post-Covid – trusts can deliver that while suiting the changing needs and demographics of companies. They are an increasingly interesting asset.
FR: If you could see one headline about the healthcare insurance industry in 2021, what would it be?
'Prevention is better than cure: 2021 and the year of health'.
The past year has taught us how to be truly resilient in face of adversity, but it has also put huge emphasis on the importance of maintaining our health. Putting steps in place to prevent issues is much more effective than dealing with the consequences and people are recognising this; the industry will have to adapt with this in mind.