UK Benefits: NHS vs Private Healthcare

When overseas companies set up in the UK, they need to consider what benefits they will offer their UK staff, especially when it comes to private healthcare.

For staff, having a company healthcare scheme allows them to access private healthcare that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Your business will therefore benefit from a healthier and happier workforce and reduced sickness rates by enabling staff to get faster access to health support.

Regarding the National Health Service (NHS) coverage, this is available to all UK residents at no cost and not provided by employers. This provides all healthcare needs, however, the difference between the state health system and private healthcare is the speed of treatment and reduced waiting times. The current waiting time for a non-emergency operation on the NHS system is 18 weeks. The same operation under private coverage is much faster and can sometimes be booked within days.

The NHS and private healthcare cover are designed to work hand-in-hand and private healthcare will not exclusively cover all medical needs. For example, in any emergencies or life-threatening situations, the NHS will be used as private healthcare would not cover initial life-threatening emergencies. However, if further treatment was required after a person is stabilised, they could seek treatment privately.

What does private healthcare include?

Depending on the medical insurance policy that you as a company chooses, your staff could access a range of treatments including:

  • Treatment and support for mental health issues including depression and anxiety
  • 24-hour GP helpline
  • 24-hour stress counselling helpline
  • Treatment in a hospital of your employee’s choice
  • Cancer care cover at an extra cost
  • Pre-existing conditions cover (usually available to larger companies)

Overseas companies may already offer this benefit to their staff in their home country but they need to decide if they offer this to the staff located in the UK.

Some staff may want their dependents (partners and children) who reside at the same address to be covered as well, especially when they are located overseas in the UK. Companies will have the choice to offer this or give employees the opportunity to select this option but pay 50% of the cost of their partner which would be deducted monthly at payroll.

Offering health benefits to your overseas employees gives them access to private healthcare when they need it most. And it shows that your business cares about them as valued and appreciated individuals, helping you to retain a loyal workforce.

We work with overseas companies to ensure that their business is successfully established in all aspects, including UK HR law. To find out more about how we can assist you with employee benefits for overseas staff, please get in touch.