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Employers that offer private medical insurance (PMI) may have noticed that millennials don’t seem as engaged as other generations in taking up the benefit. So why isn’t this generation – who some claim to be the most health conscious of all* – buying into PMI when it mirrors their lifestyle and ethos so well?

It appears that there are misunderstandings about what PMI is, and what it can offer – particularly amongst millennials. If employers take time to address some of these misconceptions, it may aid take up of PMI.

Put off by tax
As a “benefit in kind”, PMI is liable to tax – a fact which can be enough to put off millennials from the outset. If businesses take time to explain what this might look like in reality however, it can help to alleviate employee concerns that they will be seriously out of pocket each month if they use PMI.

For example, keep things simple in letting the employee know that an annual £300 PMI premium, where the individual is paying 20% of that premium in tax, would equate to it costing just £5 of their salary each month. A PMI scheme that was seemingly expensive can then seem quite obtainable.

Added extras
Whilst some fitness-conscious millennials are happy to pay up to £100 for gym membership each month, many are unaware that their company PMI may include a 50% discount on a gym. Similarly, millennials are renowned for their passion for travel, spending £150bn on tourism each year,** yet don’t know PMI may include travel insurance.

Taking time to communicate additional perks within PMI, aside from the more commonly understood benefits such as quicker access to medical appointments, can make a big difference in take up rates.

Ill-health in the young
Despite being a generation potentially more aware of their health than any other, thanks to smartphone health apps monitoring exercise and food intake, it doesn’t mean that millennials are exempt from getting ill. In fact, research finds that cancer incidence rates in young people have increased by more than a quarter (28%) since the early 1990s*** and obesity in adults is expected to rise to 70% by 2034.****

Whilst avoiding scaremongering, it is important that businesses encourage employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Providing support to do just this, by offering healthy-eating workshops and exercise advice, can top up the additional benefits PMI provides.

By highlighting all the benefits available within PMI, showcasing that it is affordable and applicable to their lifestyles, millennials are much more likely to engage and see how they can take advantage of it. If PMI is offered as part of a more holistic health and wellbeing package as well, it sends a strong message to the employee that their health is the company’s top priority.

* http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/

** https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/parenting/millennials-really-spend-money/

*** https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/young-peoples-cancers

**** https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/childhood-obesity-applying-all-our-health/childhood-obesity-applying-all-our-health

Brett Hill – Managing Director, The Health Insurance Group