How company health insurance works for small international businesses

How company health insurance works for small international businesses

If you own a small business, this one’s for you. Company health insurance provides much more than essential cover when your employees need to see a doctor or go to hospital. It is also a catalyst for positive change, creating an empowering workplace culture that drives growth and puts staff health and well-being front and centre of your business.
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Let’s start by dispelling some myths that continue to surround business health insurance. First up, some believe it’s prohibitively expensive and affordable only to large companies, while others regard it as either a perk of the job or an avoidable overhead. And there’s also the perception that insurance comes gift-wrapped and is available on a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it basis. All are wide of the mark. 

Business health insurance that’s simple and affordable

There’s no question that the majority of employers we speak to believe that company health insurance is a good thing – they don’t need to be convinced. However, the reality is that many businesses are still facing significant financial challenges and when times are tough, spending inevitably becomes harder to justify. Does it offer value for money and deliver a return on investment?

We listen to our customers and the message is loud and clear: small companies want health insurance that’s simple to understand, easy to administer and, above all, affordable. With SMEs representing 99% of all businesses in the UK1 and the European Union2, this is a powerful voice that deserves to be heard. And let’s not forget that ambitious small companies can grow to become the business powerhouses of the future. However, they need a healthy and motivated workforce for this to happen.

We recently launched a new global healthcare solution designed for small businesses. It sits alongside our award-winning premium plan, filling a gap in the market for a high-quality, mid-market product. By making measured adjustments to our benefits and coverage and incentivising customers to use our telehealth services we’ve been able to reduce costs and deliver sustained value across three plan levels.

This is good news all-round. For employees, it means they have 24/7 access to high-quality healthcare wherever they’re working in the world. And from an employer’s perspective, it’s a chance to buy budget-friendly insurance cover from a premium brand and offer their staff an attractive benefits package.

colleagues speaking while using their laptops

Changing attitudes to health and well-being

There’s another factor that’s significant in the context of workplace health. Changing priorities and life goals mean that employees are looking for more than an exciting career and a generous salary. Time spent with family and friends away from work is equally important and many people have hit the reset button to re-evaluate their lives, especially concerning their health. Findings from our 2022 360° Global Well-Being Survey revealed that 60% of senior managers said they’d take a lower-paying job if they could work fewer hours. These results shouldn’t come as a surprise, as data from the same survey confirmed that 84% of all employees claim to be suffering from stress. This isn’t a coincidence – there’s a clear connection between the two figures. It’s also the reason why there is a greater expectation on employers to fulfil their duty of care and, more specifically, to provide company health insurance.

So for those small businesses who remain undecided about the merits of buying a company health plan, there are compelling reasons why they should reconsider. Business owners will inevitably ask: ‘Do we really need it?’, especially when markets continue to be challenging. The fact is, they do. Company health insurance shouldn’t be regarded as a cost or overhead. It’s an investment that will generate a healthy return on investment (ROI), create a positive workplace culture and help drive growth and success. Put another way, SMEs can’t afford to operate without a company health plan behind them and here’s why.

As Whole Health takes centre stage, creating a company culture that values and supports employees is key to retaining and recruiting talent. Forward-thinking companies see health benefits as the best way to do this, while others focus on external perception - developing a brand that gets them noticed, generates awareness and converts prospects to customers. That’s all fine and good, but without a healthy, motivated workforce, cracks will soon appear, standards will drop and clients will become disillusioned. For any brand to be credible and sustainable, the values the company holds dear must be reflected in what goes on behind the scenes. It’s no coincidence that happy employees make the best brand ambassadors.

Woman smiling during a meeting

Business health insurance – investing in your company’s future

There’s another reason why a company health plan has become a must-have investment. The impact of sickness and long-term absenteeism on small businesses is arguably greater than that experienced by larger organisations. Many SMEs rely on a small core team of directors and managers whose knowledge of the company and industry expertise are irreplaceable. Take one person out of the equation, there’s a big hole to fill, not forgetting the high cost of recruitment and training. Similarly, if employees go to work when they’re unwell, productivity will inevitably drop and quality will be compromised. It all adds up to unhappy customers and demotivated staff.

With a company health plan, small businesses can avoid these pitfalls and plan for the future with greater confidence, knowing their employees are in a good place, both physically and emotionally.

By investing in healthcare, SMEs can create a culture of care that does much more than provide access to medical services. It shifts the focus to prevention and early intervention, giving employees the digital tools to manage their health and make the right lifestyle choices.

Businesses also benefit from the fact that providers now take a holistic approach to healthcare and design plans that address both physical and mental health. This Whole Health philosophy recognises that body, spirit and mind are connected. In practice, this means that family or financial worries at home can affect an individual’s ability to concentrate, meet deadlines and deal with pressure at work. Conversely, when things in the workplace get too much, there’s always the danger this could trigger tensions at home, leading to stress, anxiety and relationship problems.

An employer’s duty of care is not something to be taken lightly or ignored. Providing health benefits through a customised group plan demonstrates that the company takes its responsibilities seriously and is fully committed to employee well-being. It’s also an investment that can transform business performance: when staff are healthy and motivated, they work better. There’s a reduction in days lost through sickness and absenteeism and because employees feel valued, their productivity increases and staff turnover remains low. In short, the company is in a good place.

If there’s a single message small business owners should take from this blog, it’s that by protecting the health of their employees, they are laying the foundations for a successful business.

If you’d like to discover more about our health plans, talk to us today. We are responsible for the healthcare requirements of over 180 million customers and patients worldwide and lead the market in developing cost-effective, sustainable plans that can be customised to include the products, services and tools each client needs.

Cigna Connect is our latest solution. Designed for small businesses, our Connect plans fill a gap in the market for simple, affordable and flexible health insurance that offers outstanding cover and great value for money.

Discover what makes Cigna Connect the choice of SMEs around the world.


1 UK Parliament, Business Statistics, 2022

2 European Commission, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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