What is health screening?
Corporate health screening offers a range of assessments that can be adapted to suit employer requirements. These enable the early detection of potential health issues before they can become more serious.
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Who are the main providers?
AMS, Axa PPP Healthcare, Blossoms Healthcare, BMI Healthcare, Bupa, Company Health, Corazon Health, IHC, iHealth, Medifit, New Leaf Health, Nuffield Health, Prevent, Randox Health Checks, Relaxa UK, Screenetics, Serco Occupational Health.
Where can employers learn more?
By flagging up existing or potential health issues in the workforce, health screening has obvious advantages for both employers and employees, says Scott Beagrie
With the London Olympics looming, there is likely to be a workforce focus on getting fit this year, so it could be an opportune time for employers to introduce employee health screening as a benefit.
Screening brings gains for employees and employers on a number of levels. It enables the early detection of potential health issues before they have a chance to affect the workplace, and helps employees to understand and manage their health and risks, leading to improved health and wellbeing across the organisation.
The goals set through health screening can influence staff absence rates, creativity and productivity, says David Brame, commercial director at Nuffield Health Corporate Wellbeing. “A provider will be able to record, trend and present the health profile of a business using the data from the programme,” he says. “A good provider will be able to go further and consult on the steps a business should take to manage any health issues highlighted through the [anonymised] data, guiding the employer to a healthier, more resilient workforce and, ultimately, a strong return on investment.”
Health screening can take many forms but typically comprises tests ranging from blood pressure, height, weight, urine analysis and cholesterol checks up to full-body MRI and ultrasound scans. Depending on an employee’s age, specialist checks for conditions such as bowel or breast cancer can also be included.
Most popular type of screening
Paul Roberts, lead consultant at healthcare specialist IHC, says the current most popular type of screening costs less than £100 a year per employee and offers personal health assessments, advice, information and tests enabling employees to start making healthier choices.
Brame says the cost of a health assessment depends on specification linked to age and risk scale, and could range from £200 to £600.
Under the Finance Act 2009, health screening that takes place no more than once a year is tax exempt. There are also national insurance and income tax savings if it is offered via a salary sacrifice arrangement. But Roberts says discounted health screening is falling out of favour as a benefit as employees’ discretionary spend reduces.
“Employers still offer screening for self-purchase but take up is falling due to the high cost,” he says. “Where [employers] pay for screening, we recommend a three-year rotation so the whole workforce is screened over a three-year period. This helps keep budgets low and ensures there is a structured wellbeing scheme to fit the workforce.”
A programme must be aligned with an employer’s strategic agenda for health, says Brame. “It is critical for those looking to commence or reinvigorate a wellbeing strategy to define their objectives and use these, undiluted, as the building blocks for a programmes.”
During the downturn, employers have maintained executive health screening in a bid to keep their top performers at work, but screening “the fit and fabulous” will provide only a small return, says Brame. “Better returns can be found by screening a population such as a regional office and creating a buzz, excitement and motivation to change and improve their health and wellbeing,” he says.
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