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Health insurance for an ageing workforce

HEALTH insurance may increasingly be used as a carrot in the salary packages for an ageing workforce.

While fringe benefits tax may dissuade some employers from purchasing health insurance packages for employees, there are options available to reduce the cost of insurance to employees or to incorporate health promotion via the insurance company into your office.

SGIO Health corporate sales manager Korey Valenti said that, while some employers paid their employees’ entire health insurance premium, the most popular choice was to opt to pay an excess should an employee need to go to hospital.

“The most common selection is the hospital excess product; it’s the most affordable,” Mr Valenti said.

“Most employers will also purchase extras cover. That covers day-to-day things like optical, dental, natural therapies, alternative therapies and benefits on gym memberships.”

By choosing this option employees receive a reduced premium rate and the employer only pays fringe benefits tax when the hospital excess is paid.

HBF health promotions coordinator Joel Canning said companies could gain corporate kudos by entering into preferred supplier agreements.

“If fringe benefits is an issue employers can enter a preferred health insurance supplier agreement. They simply nominate us as a preferred supplier and make it easier for employees to get insurance, like allowing direct debit payments,” he said.

“Employees can still choose who they want to get insurance from but, by having us as a preferred supplier, we can offer healthy heart checks and four free educational workshops a year.”

Companies can also act on employees’ behalf to negotiate good rates. While the industry is regulated, there is scope to create corporate packages and rates.

WA Police Union general manager Ken See said when the union was looking to value-add its services it negotiated an insurance package that members had the option to purchase.

“We identified insurance as one of the elements that everyone has an interest in, and as a particular interest to families,” he said.

“Insurance companies don’t discount but they have a corporate rate. By going under the banner of a corporate relationship our members get a net discount.”

Ernst and Young head of human cap-ital Sue Jauncey said employers should consider providing employees with options when it came to offering salary packages.

“When it comes to salary packaging people need to look from a people perspective. Things like more flexible hours, study and training leave,” Ms Jauncey said.

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