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Bupa calls on Government to banish taxes on health insurance at work

12 May 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
Private health and care company, Bupa has called on the Government to be more supportive of health at work services by removing the heavy tax penalties that currently apply.

Bupa argues that as the system currently stands, both the employer and employee face tax hits if an employer provides treatment for a member of staff to return to work early after a non-work injury.

Fergus Kee, managing director of Bupa UK Health Insurance, said: "The employee incurs income tax on the benefit and the employer has to pay National Insurance contributions. If that treatment is funded through health insurance, there is a further Insurance Premium Tax charge. So both the company and the receiver of healthcare are penalised."

According to Dame Carol Black's recent Review of the Health of the Working Population, work is good for most peoples' long-term health and family's well-being. As a result, she proposed the measures in attempts to keep people healthy at work, and to help them return to work should they get ill.

According to the review, ill health is costing the country £100billion a year – enough to run the entire NHS. Commenting, Dame Carol Black said: "For most people their work is a key factor in their self-worth, family esteem and identity.

"So if they become sick and are not helped quickly enough, they can all too easily find themselves on a downward spiral into long-term sickness and a life on benefits. This is not only devastating for them, but also for their families. Their children suffer financially, emotionally and it can affect their long-term futures."

According to Bupa Health Insurance, the majority of employers are in favour of Government assisted health at work services, but wary of taxes, Mr Kee said: "Nine out of ten employers tells us they want more from the Government to invest in health at work and over half would invest more if there were more incentives to do so.

"We work with 80 per cent of FTSE 100 companies and thousands of smaller businesses across the country. The current tax treatment of workplace health provision is an obstacle and a strong disincentive. If removed, it would allow more companies to play their part in keeping Britain healthy." he added.

Mr Kee concluded, commenting that: "Investing in workplace health offers a triple win: better health for the individual, better productivity for the employer and increased profitability for UK plc."

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