Health Shield has introduced a number of changes to its range of health cash plans going into 2015. The changes include:
* The introduction of its PERKS reward website. This offers members discounts and cashback on their shopping, entertainment, travel and days out. Health Shield estimates that a typical family of four could save over £1,500 a year and says there are up to 4,000 offers available on the website.
* An online GP service, called Virtual GP Surgery, which is available via webcam. Members can book a webcam consultation from 8.30am to 6.30pm on weekdays. The GP can then raise an electronic private prescription and, where appropriate, a copy of the consultation notes can be sent to the member’s own GP. This service is in addition to the existing GP 24/7 helpline.
* A private prescription service linked to Virtual GP Surgery can enable medication to be delivered to the member’s door. This can be achieved by the GP sending a private prescription (authorised by a digital signature) to a pharmacy, which then fulfils the order.
* A redesigned employee assistance programme. This includes increasing the number of face-to-face counselling sessions from six to eight on Health Shield’s Essential Plus, Elements Plus and Tailored plans.
* An improved online health assessment and personal coaching website now offers more services around stress management and personal coaching.
* Increased allowances on core benefits such as dental, optical and physiotherapy.
What They Say
Executive director for sales and marketing Philip Wood said: “These changes to our cash plans mean that we will be starting 2015 in a very strong position with products and benefits that provide a variety of help and assistance to employers and, by extension, will be of great value to employees. Our online GP and private prescription services, for example, are very useful for members with busy lifestyles who don’t have the time to prioritise their health needs in the way they perhaps wish they could do.”
What We Say
"Health Shield’s changes look to be useful and should further increase the appeal of its plans.
"In particular, a video link takes the GP helpline benefit an important stage further. Where necessary, the ‘virtual’ GP can now see what the patient is trying to describe as well as hear about it. Both services can mean less reliance on over-stretched NHS GPs and A&E departments and that is becoming an increasingly valuable benefit too. However, private prescriptions can be expensive (it all depends on what is prescribed), the service only applies during weekday working hours and it’s a not a full alternative to an NHS GP."