In November (2015), the vast majority of employers were hit hard by the
rise from 6% to 9.5% in insurance premium tax (IPT).
Punter Southall Health & Protection have calculated that a medical
insurance scheme with 500 members paying a net premium of £450,000 a
year will see a £15,570 rise in IPT, making the total payable £42,750 –
with further increases in NI and Benefit in kind tax.
Elsewhere in the business press – and beyond – there have been concerns
that the rise in the price of health insurance products will mean people
neglecting everyday health needs, and potentially storing up problems
which, in the long run, could cost employers even more.
No health condition should be ignored, but in the case of cancer, it can
mean the difference between life and death. Generally speaking, there is
a simple dynamic: if it is caught early, the chances of successful
treatment are good; if not, the prognosis is poor.
To demonstrate this, one need only look at breast cancer versus lung
cancer. Breast cancer has a very high awareness level, is subject to
national screening and many anomalies can be picked by self-checking.
Detection rates are therefore high, and survival rates follow suit: 2011
figures for breast cancer show around 50,000 cases per annum in the UK,
with 11,716 deaths from this disease in 2012.
Lung cancer is harder to detect if you are not specifically testing for
it, and there is no national screening programme. As a result, around
90% of cases come to light due to symptoms such as weight loss or a
cough – at which point, it is usually too late. Levels of lung cancer
are slightly lower than those for breast cancer – 43,463 new cases in
the UK in 2011 – but the number of deaths is more than triple: 35,371 in
the UK in 2012.
Cancer generally is on the increase, and business is becoming more
vulnerable to its impact. Of the 325,000 people diagnosed with cancer
each year, over 100,000 are of working age, and estimates suggest that
over 750,000 people of working age are now living with a cancer
diagnosis. According to a Cancer Research UK report, 46% of these
cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are far harder to
treat successfully. In September last year, Unum reported that cancer is
the biggest cause of long-term sickness claims, accounting for almost
three out of 10 (29%) long-term sickness claims paid in the past year.
It’s very much in the corporate interest, therefore, for business to do
what it can to minimise cancer risk.
There’s a simple equation here: the cost of treating an individual case of
cancer through a health insurance scheme can be considerable – tens of
thousands. If the employer can help the employee to detect it early, however, treatment is more likely to be successful – which also means that treatment time and cost is reduced, and the employee needs less time off work and can get back to normal more quickly. That is a win for all concerned.
For proof that this works, we need only look at the example of Hewlett
Packard and its four successive campaigns, each targeting a different cancer – including lung cancer. To date, 65+ cancers have been detected, many of
which may not have been picked up until symptoms presented themselves.
It’s clear, therefore, that lives have been saved – a very powerful way
for a company to show it cares for its staff (HP noted a 13% increase in
employee engagement during the run of the campaigns).
But there is also an overall cost saving. As Mark Osborn, Total Rewards
Manager (UK & Ireland) for Hewlett Packard put it: “The cost of
treatment and care is greater when it’s detected later, so there will
have been savings either for the NHS or HP’s private medical scheme as a
result of that earlier detection. But also, if we are getting that early
detection and intervention, then there will be a reduction in our longer
term absence cost and our life assurance cost, which can in turn
increase productivity. Ultimately there is a real business benefit in
addition to the undoubted personal benefit.” With the recent 50% hike in
IPT, savings such as this become all the more critical for a company’s
health and wellbeing.
To help employers assess the value of a proactive anti-cancer strategy,
we commissioned a unique online tool gives them the opportunity –
without any obligation – to crunch hard figures and see for themselves
the potential costs and savings from adopting an early detection approach.
The Cancer Impact Calculator was created Health At Work Wellness
Actuaries (HAW) using data from Cancer Research UK (www.check4cancer.com/cic).
While it is only a preliminary indication of the kinds of savings that may be made, it is designed to remove the guesswork from this process. Sound business – like sound science – is built on sound data.
We are confident the benefits will be clear, and the choice a simple
one. Like it or not, cancer is going to have an impact on business, but
if we act now, business can protect itself – and also have a very real
impact on cancer.
Professor Gordon Wishart is a consultant breast and endocrine surgeon and medical director of Check4Cancer