Private medical insurance (PMI) has topped the list of most desirable employee benefits, according to new research.
The study by Zest revealed that while it topped the list for one in three workers, just 14% are offered PMI by their employer.
The employee benefits technology company’s findings showed that a third (32%) of respondents ranked PMI above other popular benefits, including greater pension contributions (30%), retail discounts (21%) and a company car (17%).
According to the research, which come as NHS waiting lists in England reach 7.5 million people, demand for insurance is especially high among female staff, at 33% versus 29% of men, and those aged over 55 (44%).
Matt Russell, CEO at Zest, said: “Over the last year we’ve seen the UK’s National Health Service face some of its toughest challenges ever, from strike action over pay to record waiting times for routine treatment.
“It’s no surprise that more people are considering private healthcare, but with the significant cost that accompanies this, many are now putting medical insurance at the top of their list for benefits they want to see from their employer.
Among those with access to PMI through work, one in 10 (10%) have used it within the past year.
Respondents also placed the insurance ahead of cost-of-living benefits, such as employer-provided support with home energy costs and workplace savings schemes, cited by 25% and 21% respectively.
Russell added: “Employers need to take note of this demand and look at how they can adapt their benefits offer to meet the current needs of employees, if they are to attract and retain talent.”
According to Zest, provision does not see, to be keeping up with employee demand. Its own employee benefits data revealed an 8% rise in PMI usage among eligible employees in the past year, while there had been just a 1.5% increase in overall eligibility in the same period.