The past two years of the pandemic have witnessed more reshuffles in the corporate world than probably decades combined. Even after two years, workplaces are still finding their feet and evolving to match the pace of their new-age workforce. Long work hours combined with pandemic-led anxiety in a socially-distanced world had employees running on fumes in no time leading to dissociation with the workplace. This compelled organisations around the world to revisit wellness and flexibility strategies in every aspect of employment - including but not limited to work and compensation. The flexibility today traverses beyond work hours or location and has found its way to corporate insurance.
Traditionally perceived as just the perfunctory element of remuneration, corporate insurance today is much more than just a fallback option for emergencies. The past few years have witnessed a monumental change in India, especially when it comes to inclusivity. In 2019, the legislation was passed to allow transgender persons to change their legal gender after sex-reassignment surgery and they were granted the constitutional right to register themselves under a third gender.
As corporate spaces continue to become more inclusive to adopt these changes, so does corporate insurance. Initiatives like the 2021’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme and the IRDAI’s directive in March 2022 to insurers on having a clear underwriting philosophy for transgender applicants further put the winds in the sails for organisations to widen their scope of coverage for employees. Here’s encapsulating the challenges and opportunities of transgender coverage in group health insurance.
What all is covered
Under the ambit of corporate transgender insurance, companies are offering coverage for hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery, and post-operative care. There are certain conditions applied where anywhere between 5 to 10 procedures in the LGBTIQA+ clause can be availed by each corporate. These policies also cover gender reassignment surgeries if the reassignment has been deemed a medical or psychological necessity. Some of these packages even include hormone therapy, post-operative rehabilitation for the patient, and providing any support facilities to facilitate ease of rehabilitation. The regulator, insurers and insurance products are evolving quickly.
Apart from this, one might also need help to battle the psychological challenges of coming to terms with the change in sex and identity. In such cases, the consultation with therapists or specialists is covered as part of core policy linked to the benefits provided by the employer.
READ MORE: What are the medical insurance policies for transgender people? Details here
Dealing with teething troubles
Organisations across the globe now have a far more inclusive approach towards hiring than ever before. The queer-friendly work policies at several organisations are opening more doors for the members of the trans community now. However, despite the policies, the ground reality of employment continues to be more complex. Similarly, while insurance coverage existed for them earlier, companies still walk a tightrope with its real-time adoption.
While insurance regulators, companies & several corporates have facilitated gender-inclusive insurance in their policies, the complexity is often caused by traditional processes not equipped to accommodate these changes.
Currently, the policies don’t cover these clauses by default unless specifically asked by the employer. These policies also face some resistance because they add an operational burden on their enrolment and endorsement systems, which aren’t dynamic. Hence, awareness is of paramount importance here. The key here is the sensitization to let the clients know the possibilities and challenges.
However, to overcome these roadblocks, organisations are actively ironing out these creases. For instance, the coverage is offered to companies with even a small number of employees. Other than that, the insured person is not asked for the gender of the spouse for same-sex partners while naming them as dependents.
How employers can help bridge the gap
While it is heartening to witness this change unfold in the workplace, there’s no denying that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to implementation. LGBTQA+ is a hugely sensitive issue in a country like India and that’s primarily the reason behind apprehension regarding sexual orientation or opting for insurance coverage for dependents. Employers can help push this change in the entire ecosystem - starting from traditional brokers to the end consumer.
Similarly, after the gender reassignment surgery, it’s imperative to respond sensitively to social affirmation needs. It could be something as simple as a change in name or pronoun but has a huge impact on the insured. Employers can drive this change by being flexible and in sync with these sensitive areas.
To conclude, the enterprises are poised to tap into this new world of possibilities and solve the puzzle along the way. However, the traditional methods need an overhaul as well to fully leverage the potential of this opportunity.
Raghuveer Malik, Business Head - Corporate Insurance, Policybazaar.com