Use workplace benefits to overcome hospital or GP coronavirus fears, urges insurer

Employers are being urged to promote health and wellbeing benefits, especially those that offer remote consultations, as a way to help people who are scared to see their GP or go to hospital because of the coronavirus pandemic still to access the medical advice they need, a health insurer has said

The call by Towergate Health and Protection has followed warnings that concerns about catching Covid-19 are meaning an estimated 2,300 cancer cases alone are going undiagnosed each week.

In response to a blog post in which charity Cancer Research UK stated fewer people with cancer symptoms were going to their GP, and concerns that urgent referrals had fallen 72%, Towergate has encouraged employers to promote their health and wellbeing benefits – especially where they offer access to remote consultations with specialists, urgent diagnostic tests or in-home cancer treatments – as a way to encourage people to seek out medical advice.

“It is understandable why employees may be reluctant to approach medical institutions about health concerns at present – out of fear of infection or to respectively give healthcare professionals a wide berth, in order to allow them to focus on tackling the crisis and minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading further. But unfortunately, just because many elements of daily life have stopped, cancer has not,” said Towergate Health and Protection distribution director Brett Hill.

“Health and wellbeing benefits that employers offer their workforce are of particular value to employees right now, and it’s important that businesses encourage employees to make use of them and seek medical help, just as they would have done prior to the pandemic, should they have a concern.”

Data published by group risk insurance body Group Risk Development has shown that cancer was the main reason behind claims made by employees covered by group life assurance, group income protection and group critical illness policies in 2019, accounting for 42%, 27% and 65% of claims respectively.

A total of £1.76bn was paid out by the group risk industry during 2019, including claims for other reasons besides cancer, with around 26,433 employees and their families benefitting.

Hill said: “Every stage of cancer can be worrying, especially during a pandemic, but the message to staff remains the same – seek advice if you have a health concern. Early diagnosis is one of the most important factors in achieving a positive outcome, so seek medical advice straight away.”

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