‘Top-Up’ Locum Insurance from MIAB complements NHS Sickness Reimbursement
The General Medical Services (GMS) contract in England for 2018/19 includes changes to the existing contract around sickness cover reimbursement for GPs: from 1st April 2017 the weekly maximum amount payable has been uplifted to £1,751 (for the first 26 weeks, then halved for 26 weeks) and qualification criteria made simpler.
MIAB has been in discussions with senior management at NHS England since the announcement to explore the reimbursement changes. We identified that these payments may not be a suitable, like-for-like replacement for Locum Insurance so opened dialogue to find out more.
Implications and Impact
As the approved supplier of insurance services to the LMC Buying Groups Federation and FPM Group (covering nearly 70% of UK GP practices) MIAB has talked with many GPs and Practice Managers unsure about the implications of the reimbursement changes on their Locum Insurance.
Long-term absences of crucial staff can have a big impact. We have a duty to customers to ensure they can make informed decisions about their risk and protection, and we don’t want them exposed to risks they can’t cover – whether they purchase insurance or not.
It is important that practices understand the implications of the scheme and that these payments may not be a suitable, like-for-like replacement for Locum Insurance.
For example, typical GPs need around £2,500 per week for cover – leaving a gap of £749. Non-sickness-related absences, like jury service, compassionate leave, suspension while under investigation and revalidation are not covered (and these account for 20% of our Locum Insurance claims), so practices will be liable for the whole cost of these absences. Similarly, Practice Managers, GP Pharmacists and other key staff are also not covered. And bear in mind that under a traditional practice partnership agreement, any financial exposure would be on the partners.
Announcing a New Locum Insurance Product
In response to the reimbursement changes, MIAB has designed and launched a ‘Top Up’ Locum Insurance product to blend the reimbursement and traditional insurance cover.
Practices can maximise the reimbursement payments for GP sickness and accident absence but rely on Locum Insurance to cover costs over and above the £1,751 per week reimbursement. Cover for jury service, compassionate leave, suspension while under investigation, and revalidation etc, remains at the full rate, allowing practices to retain the benefits of Locum Insurance policy for these absences.
For example, based on a £2,500 per week policy for a GP:
Combining the Benefits
This arrangement offers the most flexibility for practices by combining the strengths of the reimbursement and Locum Insurance to cover all healthcare professionals for all absences types.
The cost of premiums is reduced because the insurance cover required for GP sickness and accident cover is now much lower.
The policy is available on a Benefit (receipts not always necessary to claim) or Indemnified (receipts required) basis. It offers reassurance that unnecessary, unplanned financial strains are not placed on the business due to long-term absences – the full cost of cover can be budgeted for, over and above the maximum reimbursement level for GP sickness and accident absence.
The policy offers the option to mix and match top-up and standard locum covers under one policy to allow all members to be insured separately against their individual requirements.
Caring for those who care the most
As an acknowledged leader in Locum Insurance, inventing many of the features now taken for granted (such as absence-based underwriting and cover for non-sickness-related absences), MIAB was able to leverage its expertise and insurer relationships to design this new, innovative Top Up policy for GP practices.