Plum, an online employee health insurance platform, recently carried out a survey to check on the adequacy of health insurance policies offered by various employer organizations to their employees. The idea behind this survey was to find out if employees are adequately insured or if employers take the pain of availing comprehensive health insurance to their employees.
The survey results were published in the report titled “The State of Employee Benefits 2023” after conducting a detailed assessment of more than 2500 employer-sponsored health insurance plans across businesses of all sizes and inferred that Indian employers are falling short in providing comprehensive benefits.
Comprehensive health insurance – a distant dream
The results highlighted how only five per cent of Indian organisations offer comprehensive insurance coverage that includes health insurance (Group Medical Cover), accident and disability insurance (Group Personal Accident Insurance), term life insurance and comprehensive telehealth consultations (Group Term Life Insurance + Telehealth).
For survey purposes, Plum assessed the policies of organisations, categorising them as early-stage start-ups (having an employee strength of fewer than 200 employees), high-growth businesses (having 201–750 employees) and mature-stage companies (having an employee strength of 751 and above). More than 2500 insurance plans were checked.
Plum observed that the median sum insured offered by India’s employers is ₹3 lakhs (start-ups), ₹4 lakhs (high-growth companies) and ₹5 lakhs (mature-stage companies). Also, more than 53 per cent of organisations offer a sum insured of less than ₹5 lakhs, 43 per cent offer a sum insured of ₹5–10 lakhs and only three per cent offer a sum insured of ₹10 lakhs or more.
The report also highlights that 69 per cent of all companies evaluated have extended coverage to employees’ families. What is concerning is that of these companies, only one-fourth of the companies cover parents, followed by 44 per cent offering an employee-spouse-children (ESC) plan, and lastly, 30 per cent offering an employee-only plan.
Significance of term insurance largely ignored
Other aspects of the report reveal that around 64 per cent of the companies identified for the survey provide additional health benefits beyond their health insurance plans, with telehealth consultation being the most popular at a 42 per cent adoption rate. Despite the increasing importance of term life insurance for employees in today’s times, less than five per cent of companies offer it as an additional benefit.
Additionally, the report reveals that while 65 per cent of India’s out-of-pocket medical expenses come from outpatient department (OPD) spending, while less than two per cent of Indian companies offer OPD coverage with insurance.
Women continue to face discrimination
Gender inequity is also a concern when granting health insurance. It is alarming to see that women, who constitute a significant portion of the workforce, are not receiving adequate maternity benefits from their employers. In fact, only 56 per cent of Indian organisations offer maternity benefits to their female employees, with just 14 per cent of them having a maternity limit greater than ₹50,000.
Abhishek Poddar, co-founder and CEO, Plum, said, “Amid the current environment of uncertainty, it is essential for companies to pay heed to their employees' holistic health. The costs of healthcare in India are rising and a single illness can drain a family's lifetime savings. Therefore, as employers, it is important to cover employees’ and their families’ healthcare costs and also any ancillary costs that can occur due to accidents or lifetime disabilities. Not only will this increase peace of mind at work, but also increase retention and create an environment of equitable benefits for all. If salaries are benchmarked, so should benefits be.”
The importance of health insurance in today’s times cannot be ignored. The sudden onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic brought many lives to a screeching halt. People fell into debt to pay off hospital expenses. However, in most cases, people lost their loved ones. Some also complained about how it was the high costs of hospitalization and subsequent treatment that prevented many to seek adequate medical help.
Health insurance helps, especially, in today’s times when diseases are pervasive and medical practitioners are constantly battling against new variants of various viruses and bacteria.
In the end, accumulating resources throughout life becomes futile as you see your hard-earned savings being spent on hospital bills. Comprehensive health insurance coverage is available at affordable premiums. Planning a health plan in life will do much in ensuring that you receive the necessary medical help that you deserve.
Good health is your right that is not possible unless you plan early towards it.