Winter Fitness Tips

Earlier the UK weather warning was upgraded to red, the highest level, with officials recommending that those in Scotland and the south-west stay indoors as the ‘Beast from the East’ says hello to Storm Emma. If you’re suffering from cabin fever our fitness tips are here to help…

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Stairs

A great high intensity cardio and leg workout can be achieved by running or walking up and down the stairs in your house or apartment block. Add hallway walking intervals every few reps if you’re just starting out. Take two at a time or add jumping jacks in between in order to crank it up a notch. And watch your step!

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A fitness DVD or quick search on YouTube can be a great way to workout indoors, especially if space is limited. Yoga tutorials can keep you stretched and supple. Adding resistance bands, weights, a skipping rope or exercise ball into the mix can give you a great full body workout without the gym membership.

Dancing

Turning up the music and having a good ol’ dance around your living room is a great way to improve your body and your mind. Try also adding jumping jacks, push ups, dips and burpees each time the chorus kicks in. Closed curtains are advisable.

Active TV

Try jogging on the spot, skipping, doing squats, burpees or push ups during the commercial breaks of your favourite TV show. Also a great way to keep warm!

 

 

Investing in the right health insurance policy for you, your family or your employees is a great way to ensure that you’re prepared should anything negatively affect your health, which could be out of your control.  At Engage Healthcare, we work with the UK’s leading health insurance providers to find the best policy for you, at the right price. Get in touch for a no obligation quote.

 

Improve Your Health at Work

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According to a recent report Britons spend 12 years of their lives working (plus eight years shopping, 30 hours crying and 368 days in the pub). It’s no wonder time spent at work can take its toll on our mental and physical well-being – from eye strain to back problems to piling on those extra calories each time a birthday comes around. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and well whilst at work.

Conscious Snacking 

Whether it’s the communal table that houses the office treats or that week in July when everyone seems to have been born, the treats on offer in the workplace can soon add a couple of hundred calories to your daily intake. Snacking regularly on healthier options can help you to stay full in between meals, keep your metabolism up and dissuade you from reaching for the Maltesers every time you pass by on your way to the loo.

 

Stay Hydrated

Eight to 10 glasses of water a day can help you to keep hydrated and many foods are a good source of water too; watermelon, oranges, grapes and apples can all keep you healthy and your hydration up. Bring a water bottle into work and try to fill it up at least once before lunch, then fill it again and finish it before 3pm and then again before you leave for the day. Set your computer or phone alarm to remind you. Drinking more water may also help you to feel more awake and alert.

 

Keep Moving

Not only will this help burn the calories, getting out for a walk at lunchtime can also help you to de-stress and mentally take a break from the workplace. Take the stairs rather than the lift, park further away from the office (or cycle/walk/run in!) and remember to get up and move around regularly throughout the day.

 

Workspace Assessment

Ask your employer for a review of your desk or work area to ensure that everything (including you) is positioned as it should be. This is also very important if you’re in a job that requires heavy lifting or demands any physical activity. The damage you do now could last well into your retirement so make sure you start as you mean to go on.

 

Take a Holiday

They say a change is as good as a rest, but a rest it also pretty good so make sure you take the annual leave allowance you’re entitled to and switch off completely. With wifi on planes now and Smartphones constantly in our hands it’s becoming increasingly difficult to take a mental break from work and studies show that not doing so makes us less productive overall. Don’t feel guilty for taking a break (and don’t worry too much as we also spend 13 years listening to music, which sounds rather lovely).

 

At Your Service

Investing in the right health insurance policy for you, your family or your employees is a great way to ensure that you’re prepared should anything negatively affect your health, which could be out of your control.  At Engage Healthcare, we work with the UK’s leading health insurance providers to find the best policy for you, at the right price. Get in touch for a no obligation quote.

 

Stay Healthy This Winter

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Whether you’re no stranger to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or you just long for the longer, lighter evenings that Spring brings, February can be a trying month for us all as the excitement of Christmas and New Year has by now well and truly died down. Dry January has either been achieved or abandoned, you could still be vegan and that gym membership is either being put to good use or collecting cobwebs. Good news: It’s a short month and we have some winter health tips to see you through to March.

Moisturise

Going from the cold outdoors to the refuge of central heating can play havoc with your skin. Wearing gloves when it’s chilly outside can prevent drying out your skin even further. Invest in a decent face moisturiser and don’t forget the lip balm. Avoiding overly hot baths or showers, although this may seem counterproductive, can also help prevent dry and chapped skin.

Limber Up

Being less active in the winter coupled with the cold outdoors could leave your joints feeling more stiff than usual. Taking cod liver oil during the winter months can help to prevent this (be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements or making dietary changes), as can walking instead of driving, getting to the gym and generally keeping as active as possible.

Channel Those Endorphins

It can be tricky to find the enthusiasm to exercise in the winter; particularly when everyone seems to be on the same New Year health kick and the mornings and evenings are dark and cold. The good news is that once you get started your body will soon release its endorphins and improve your mood, triggering a positive feeling all over to see you through.

Wash Your Hands

It sounds very simple, but as tales of dilapidating colds and flu-like symptoms sweep Britain this winter, simply avoiding contaminating surfaces can be a good start in preventing you getting sick. Wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough, and practice good hygiene to keep yourself and your family healthy.

At Your Service

Investing in the right health insurance policy for you, your family or your employees is a great way to ensure that you’re prepared should anything negatively affect your health, which could be out of your control.  At Engage Healthcare, we work with the UK’s leading health insurance providers to find the best policy for you, at the right price. Get in touch for a no obligation quote.

 

 

 

Choosing the Right Employee Benefits for Your Team

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Whether you are considering the introduction of Employee Benefits for the first time in your business, or you’re taking the time to review your current arrangements, it’s important to remember that one size doesn’t fit all.  A good Employee Benefits strategy is a great way to make your team feel engaged and cared for, as well as helping to attract and retain the best people.

Here are a few things to consider…

Understand your workforce – It’s easy to make assumptions around which benefits will be most welcomed by staff; however, acting alone could see under-utilisation, low perceived value and a minimal return on investment.  Conducting a short employee survey to seek out your team’s views and help them to feel included in the decision will demonstrate that their opinion is valued, and generate a stronger connection with management when the “call to action” is delivered upon.

Blend your approach – Placing all of your focus in just one camp can leave your benefit provision lacking.  An insurance heavy approach (health insurance, death in service etc.), whilst excellent to provide, can leave staff disengaged, as these type of benefits are only realised when you are unwell or the worst happens.  A wellness heavy approach is proven to make staff feel more engaged as the benefits can be utilised more frequently, however, they aren’t much use if someone needs physiotherapy or an urgent diagnostic scan.  Taking a more blended approach in this area can really deliver the best of both worlds.

Promote and communicate – Once you have decided upon your benefit strategy and selection, it’s important to ensure people know what they have and how to use it.  If you are using an independent intermediary to assist you with sourcing, devising and implementing your benefits provision, do ask them to assist in how best to communicate the finished article to employees.  Any good intermediary/benefit consultancy will be happy to deliver employee presentations, develop bespoke literature and spend time at your premises to answer employee questions and promote the value being provided.

Line up your ducks – For some organisations it can often still be the case that the insurance mechanisms such as Group Medical Insurance and Income Protection are managed by a Finance department, whereas wellness provision such as Health Cash Plans and Health Screening are managed by HR.  Compartmentalising benefits across different area of the business often inhibits a joined-up approach and reduces the opportunity to drive cost efficiencies.  If your business is working with multiple service providers via different internal stakeholders, it’s likely you will pay more overall and find it increasingly difficult to achieve your overall objective.

Measure success – Even if you are spending a small percentage of gross payroll on benefits, continuous review should be a priority.  What are we getting from our current benefit provision? Is it still valued by staff? Do our partners/providers align with our company culture? Are we paying too much? Is it being effective?  These are all questions that should be asked on at least an annual basis to avoid stagnation, remain relevant and to ensure businesses get the best possible return on their investment.

 

Benefit Selection

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Private Medical Insurance – If you ask any person what the most important thing to them in their universe is, the top two answers never change:  Number one is “My family’s health” and number two is “My health”.  Therefore, if an employer sets out to support a staff member in these two areas, which are of most importance to them, they’re more likely to be appreciated and encourage loyalty.  Health Insurance plans provide specialist consultations, speedy diagnostic tests and cover high cost treatments such as oncology, heart and psychiatric conditions.

Furthermore, if an employer is able to get an unwell key member of the team treated and back to work quickly, they reduce the amount of downtime suffered and keep the business running smoothly.

Health Cash Plans – Cash Plans have become extremely popular over the last decade, offering an affordable alternative to full health cover.  In fact, 2017 saw them overtake Private Medical Insurance in the employee popularity stakes for the first time.  Covering everyday healthcare costs such as routine dental, contact lenses, physiotherapy, chiropractic and chiropody, Health Cash Plans can deliver a greater perceived value to employees than most other benefits as they are used more frequently.  Also, they are very competitively priced when compared to Private Medical Insurance and as such, are often taken up by businesses with less financial resource, or where senior staff have Medical Insurance and the employer wants to provide some cover for lower grade employees.

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP’s) – There seems to have been a revolution in Mental Health awareness, and this is something that should be applauded and encouraged.  As a society, we have taken giants steps in dispelling the stigma attached to mental health and the struggles that we all face during our very busy personal and professional lives, but of course there’s a long way to go.  What’s more, employers are taking greater responsibility to help their staff through emotional difficulties and recognise that providing tools to help their team is good for business.  EAP’s provide a 24/7 confidential employee helpline and face-to-face counselling where advice and guidance can be sought for a range of issues such as debt, drug and alcohol abuse, violence in the home, stress, legal support and more.  They are low cost to provide and if promoted in the right way, they can be of real value to staff that mightn’t have another avenue to discuss the difficulties they’re facing.

Death in Service – Or ‘Group Life Assurance’ as it is also known, is understandably not the most thrilling employee benefit to think about, but it’s more critical today than it’s ever been.  This benefit ensures that upon the death of an employee, their dependants (spouse/children) will receive a lump sum payment which is usually a multiple of the employees’ annual salary.  Why is this benefit more important now?  The first time that anyone ever discusses a Life Assurance policy is usually when they purchase their first home as once they have an asset to protect, the appropriate advice around ensuring it’s paid off if something happens to them duly follows.  However, an increase in UK house prices, an increase in the age at which people buy their first homes and ultimately fewer people purchasing homes altogether means that this conversation isn’t happening as and when it once did.  As a result, there are many more working people with no Life Assurance cover at all, but still with financial dependents who rely on them.  The thought of an employee in their early thirties with young children and no life assurance cover should be enough to send shivers down the spine of even the least risk averse amongst us.  We can’t force staff to seek the correct personal financial advice and plan for the worst, but with Group Death in Service being such a low cost benefit to provide, it should be a consideration starting point for any conscientious employer.

Group Income Protection (GIP) – GIP provides an income to an employee when they are unable to work as a result of an illness or injury.  The amount paid is typically a percentage of the employee’s salary (75% for example) and payments begin after a set waiting period and can continue until the employee returns to work, or their state pension age (SPA). Unlike some other employee benefits, with Group Income Protection the employer is the beneficiary of any claims, and this enables them to pay the absent employees’ salary through payroll as normal.  Employers can also elect to insure the cost of National Insurance and Pension contributions in order to truly minimise their financial outlay in the event of a long-term absentee.  But it’s not all doom and gloom and contemplating the worst case scenarios of prolonged employee sickness.  Early intervention and rehabilitation techniques which support employees and get them back to health and back to work as quickly as possible make GIP one of the most commendable and helpful benefits a business can provide.  Early notification of potential claims (by employer to insurer) is key to helping the affected member of staff in being assessed and assisted on the road to recovery as quickly as possible, as well as giving the employer the best possible chance of stopping a potential claim before the waiting period is up, and therefore containing future premium increases.

Health Screening – Prevention is better than the cure!  Well, that’s partially true but as highlighted above, cure is pretty important too.  A decade ago the only health screens that were provided were to senior staff in large corporate organisations.  Thankfully this is no longer the case and we have seen a significant increase in the number of employers willing to fund health screening initiatives for their wider workforce.  The higher end of health screening can be very expensive with full well-man/well-woman MOTs ranging between £300 and £900 for a three-hour detailed assessment.  These types of screens are often still reserved for the higher echelons of business personnel and that is understandable, although lots of employers now make these available on a discounted voluntary basis for those willing to fund the health screen themselves.  However, where the biggest breakthrough has come is with basic “know your numbers” health screens.  These low cost (£20 – £30 per assessment) checks are becoming ever popular and measure the key clinical indicators such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and Body Mass Index.  These basic measures should ideally be taken once per annum with a GP. However, life gets in the way and this seldom happens, leaving many people unaware of the potential health risks, which could exist beneath the surface.  Many health screening providers can now send a clinician to an employer’s premises for the day to deliver these checks and provide immediate results.

Discount Platforms – Groupon paved the way in the consumer market and now company paid “employee happiness platforms” are on the rise.  Providers in this market have done very well over the past few years in offering a relatively low-cost employee benefit that aims to save people money in areas where they already spend their disposable income.  This includes, but is not limited to, discounted breakdown cover, mobile phone insurance, gym discounts, discounted cinema tickets, cycle to work schemes, childcare vouchers and high street savings.  These platforms can be a great way to engage with your workforce and many of the better providers have developed Apps which help drive utilisation and importantly, make it simple for people to access.  Many Private Medical Insurance and Cash Plan providers will offer similar benefits as part of their standard products so it’s important that businesses don’t “double up” and that implementing a discount platform is complementary to other benefits currently in force.

 

Top Five Bucket List Items

Often rather morbidly referred to as a Bucket List (quite literally, a list of things to cross off before you ‘kick the bucket’), whether it’s seeing the Northern Lights or running a marathon, many of us have a list of must dos that we want to achieve or experience in our lifetimes. Here is a pick of our top five…

Own Your Own Business
In an age when we want more flexibility and less answering to ‘the man’, owning your own business can seem like a perfect solution and a great addition to your bucket list. The pitfalls can be uncertainty, loneliness (at least in the early days) and you may not have as much flexibility as you first imagined, having still to answer to customers and clients without the protection of a team to fall back on. The advantages are that you have more choices and are able to make decisions for yourself and your company. You get to build something, and with a bit of luck could go on to help people and maybe even make a bit of money.

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See the Northern Lights
Among the best places to see the Northern Lights are Alaska, Denmark, Iceland, Scotland, Canada or Finland. The best time of year is late November to March, as solar particles collide with atmospheric gases to create colourful curtains of stunning light. However, you can’t always be guaranteed a show as cloud cover can often impinge a trip and you may end up stood in a field at 2am staring at a dark sky. Still, there’s always Google Images.

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Solve a Rubik’s Cube
As of September 2017, fifteen-year-old Patrick Ponce from the USA holds the record for solving a Rubik’s Cube the fastest, at just 4.69 seconds. If you fancy having a go yourself and adding this to your bucket list, you can follow this handy step-by-step guide.

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Learn another Language
In order to bag the highest paid jobs, the most popular languages in the UK to learn are Mandarin, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, French and Arabic. However, if you have ‘Travelling the World’ on your bucket list you may want to rank Spanish higher up your priorities as Chinese, Spanish and English are now among the top 3 most spoken languages in the world.

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Fly Standby to a Random Destination
It takes some confidence to do this, and perhaps a deep breath or two when packing, but not only will you often save on flight costs by turning up to an airport and letting the standby gods decide, you’ll also hopefully end up experiencing a destination outside of your comfort zone and an experience to tell your grandkids.

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Top 10 Tips when Buying Private Medical Insurance or Reviewing Your Current Scheme

The number of people in Britain taking out private medical insurance has risen significantly this year for the first time since 2008. Below are our top tips to help you navigate this confusing market and ensure you get the best deal for you.

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1. Benefit structure – Lots of policies are modular these days so it’s worth having a good think about what’s important to you. Perhaps psychiatric cover isn’t the top of your list? Perhaps limiting the amount of out-patient cover would be worthwhile? Could having access to a Private GP in central London be a priority? Any good advisor will take the time to understand your needs in a detailed way and find a product that meets them perfectly.

2. Be clear on No Claims Discounts – Some health insurers offer them, some don’t, and unfortunately only a crystal ball can tell you if this option will be good for you in the long-run. Therefore, it’s hugely important that you understand what you’re getting into. It’s easy to be attracted by a low premium, but be aware that a large No Claims Discount means your actual core premium is much higher than the price you’ve been quoted and if you make a series of claims, you could quickly find yourself paying a significant amount more.

3. Be cautious of sales people that represent a single insurer – Whilst professional and knowledgeable in most instances, success for them is selling you their product, and their product alone. The price you’ll pay will be no less by going direct and like all good sales people, they will focus on the great points of their offering, but can’t give you an impartial view of how they stack up against their competitors. Product, benefits, features, service, administration and claims can vary wildly between insurers, so how can this person be sure that your needs wouldn’t be better served elsewhere?

4. Avoid online comparison websites – We’re talking about your health here so don’t manage the process like you would when reviewing your home or car insurance. Comparison sites can leave you confused and raise more questions than when you started.  Additionally, the big comparison websites (aggregators) will often pass your details onto third parties, which could result in numerous unexpected phone calls and emails from sales people.  It’s tempting to click website links promising a “quick quote”, but realistically, this will simply be an online form for your personal details, where you’ll agree for a sales person to ring you back.

5. Consider the importance of wellness initiatives – The success of the health insurance market relies heavily upon healthy lives being covered to offset the claims cost of those who become ill. In recent years many insurers have started to provide wellness initiatives as part of their products in an attempt to incentivise healthy behaviour and provide greater value to members. Wellbeing is a sexy topic in society at present, so if discounted gym memberships, free wearable tech devices and low cost health screening resonates with you, find a plan that delivers them.

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6. Do your homework on cancer cover – Possibly the most emotive reason that people buy Private Medical Insurance in the first place? It’s true that oncology cover differed greatly in the past between UK medical insurance providers, but it’s not so much of a differentiator these days, with most insurers recognising how important it is to offer comprehensive cover as a default setting. The most important elements to check are that the chosen product provides cover for biological therapies (the expensive cancer drugs), palliative care and the time limits which apply before cover ceases.

7. Consider your hospital selection – Do you really need all of those top-tier hospitals in Central London covered? Probably not. There is a common misconception among those with health insurance that the amount a hospital charges for accommodation and other sundries is directly related to clinical outcomes. This simply isn’t the case. A hospital selection more suited to your geographical location or where the insurer directs you, can deliver handsome savings on your premium and still provide an excellent setting for any treatment.

8. Take advice on Consultant selection – Whilst most insurers say they provide “Full Refund” for Consultant costs, what most actually mean is that they will cover in full up to an amount they deem reasonable and customary for the procedure in question. This can mean that customers are left with a shortfall between what the Consultant charges, and what the insurer is willing to pay. Insurers often catch the brunt of peoples’ frustrations here but truth be told, if an insurer won’t pay a Consultant’s bill in full, it’s likely the Consultant charges more than the typical cost for that procedure, and with no clear evidence that their clinical outcomes, expertise, experience or re-admission rates warrant a higher value on their work. Some insurers can genuinely provide full cover for Consultants, Surgeons and Anaesthetists so it’s important to consider your priorities here.

9. Policy Excess – An excess is a great way to reduce your premium by agreeing to pay the first (x) amount of a claim. If you are most concerned with very large healthcare costs and you want to keep the premiums low, then perhaps a large excess or shared-responsibility could be suitable. The most common excess is £100 and will typically deliver between a 7-10% discount on your premium.

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10. Seek independent qualified advice
– With a surge in Private Medical Insurance sales comes an increased number of sales channels to service that demand. Regrettably not all of these channels possess the professional qualifications and experience to do a great job. Our top tip is to seek independent advice from a qualified intermediary who has access to all UK health insurance providers. Specialist health insurance intermediaries offer an impartial view of the market and provide you with prices from all insurers, meaning they can genuinely put your needs at the top of their priority list without having to shoehorn you into product which isn’t quite right. What’s more, as they have customers with all insurers but no allegiance to any, you can be sure that any views of specific insurers (good, bad and indifferent) are impartial and based on real customer experiences.

Move Over Boris, The Bricycles Have Landed

If you’ve been out and about in Brighton the past few days, you’ll have noticed the arrival of the new “Boris Bikes”, part of a new bike share scheme that commenced in the City on the 1st September. Launching with 35 parking hubs, another 15 are to be completed by the end of the month to house 450 bikes in total once the roll out is complete.

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During the opening weekend, over 1500 people signed up and organisers reported that users were taking bikes out as early as 2am on the Saturday. In true Brighton style, residents gathered along the seafront to watch Vince Venus, aka Juice FM’s Guy Lloyd, and friends demonstrate how one might try to negotiate a Life Bike in six-inch heels.

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(Friend of Engage Healthcare, Vince Venus, aka Juice FM’s Guy Lloyd, at the Brighton Life Bikes launch event).

The bikes (or “Brikes” as they’re starting to be affectionately referred as) are rented by downloading the Social Bicycles app. They cost £1 to sign up and 3p per minute to use. You can find out more here: https://www.btnbikeshare.com/ including how to download the app, where the bikes are stationed and how to register for an annual membership.

Receive a Complementary Fruit Box (Corporate Customer) – Terms & Conditions

Is your company health insurance costing you more than it should? Allow us to review your current scheme for free, and receive a complementary 30-piece fruit box every month when you appoint us.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
The corporate customer must appoint Engage Healthcare to their existing plan before the review will commence. In the instance of remaining with the existing provider, Engage Healthcare will become the broker on behalf of the customer and holding insurer. This will incur no additional cost to the customer. Customer fruit boxes will be dispatched on the renewal date of policy or first working day following a weekend renewal and each month thereafter. The annual premium must be a minimum of £6,000 to qualify.

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Engage Healthcare Relocates to New Central Hove Office

Following a period of continued growth across all lines of business and with two new appointments to the team, Engage Healthcare has relocated to a new office space in central Hove.

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The business has been successful in securing a number of new and exciting clients over the past 12 months, throughout South East England and London. As a result, Engage Healthcare’s new office location is within close proximity to Hove railway station with great transport links to clients’ key locations, including only an hour to London.

You can now find us at Kingsway House, 134-140 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2DL. If you’re in the area, please feel free to drop in!

All Major UK Health Insurers

Engage Healthcare Ltd reviews your health insurance cover against all major UK health insurance providers to find you the right cover, for the best price. Get in touch today.

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