UK workers increasingly value health cash plans over other benefits


UK workers increasingly value health cash plans over other benefits

March 16, 2017

Health cash plans have become the second most popular benefit in the country behind contributory pensions, according to the 2017 Willis Towers Watson Employee Benefits and Wellbeing Index.

The annual index, which explores worker attitudes to employee benefits, found that 12% of respondents valued health cash plans the most – two-thirds (66%) of whom earn less than the national average salary(1).

The results see cash plans leapfrog both life and health insurance in the rankings(2). Contributory pension schemes remain top with 32% of the vote with health and life insurance pushed into joint third spot (both 11% respectively).

“The great value of cash plans, unlike most other insurance products, is that they’re designed to be used regularly to recover essential, everyday, healthcare expenses such as optical costs or dental treatment,” said Mike Blake, Director, Willis Towers Watson Health & Benefits.

“As a consequence, they can prove to be of particular value to lower wage earners and the newly-defined JAM (Just About Managing) population.”

Hot on the heels of the top four are health screenings (9%), a benefit that can provide insights into everything from body fat and hearing to blood pressure and lung function.

“Health screenings, which can be treated as a non-taxable benefit, offer employees an opportunity to address health issues before they become an issue, as well as suggesting ways to prevent health issues in the future.” added Blake.

“Furthermore, they can help companies develop a better understanding of the risk factors affecting staff, enabling early intervention to reduce insurance claims and incidents of sickness absence.”

Despite efforts to promote mental health in the workplace and tackle traditional stigmas, counselling and EAP benefits continue to prop up the benefits rankings with just 3% of the vote.


(1) based on an (ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) average salary of £27,600 

(2) Health insurance and life insurance were jointly considered the second most popular benefit in the 2016 Employee Benefits Index


About the research

The Willis Towers Watson Employee Benefits and Wellbeing Index explores attitudes to employee benefits among UK workers.

The research was conducted among 1,123 adults, aged 18-64, who are currently in full or part-time employment in Great Britain. The interviewed sample was weighted to represent the adult population of Great Britain.

Staff ranked benefits from a finite list of major benefits offered to staff (contributory pension schemes, health insurance, company car schemes, life insurance, income protection insurance, health screenings, critical illness cover, counselling or EAPs, childcare vouchers and health cash plans).


Employee benefit Ranked most valued by employees (%)
Contributory pension scheme 32
Health cash plan 12
Health insurance 11
Life insurance 11
Health screenings 9
Income protection insurance 6
Company car scheme 6
Critical illness cover 5
Childcare vouchers 5
Counselling service or Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) 3