India accounts for nearly 15 per cent of the global mental health burden, according to WHO data. As many as 47 per cent of Indian professionals consider workplace-related stress the biggest deterrent to their mental health, out of which 33 per cent continue to work despite this strain.
Decreased employee productivity due to mental health issues remains stigmatised, with about 73 per cent of employers not covering mental health in their employee health benefits package, reveals a new survey by healthcare and insurance startup Loop.
The survey, titled Corporate India’s Insurance Trap - The Glaring Gap in Employee Health Benefits, was conducted with over 500 human resources (HR) leaders from multiple industries across India to explore the way they are currently looking at health benefits for their employees.
Only 1 in 3 companies run wellness initiatives
The term ‘healthcare’ has grown to hold a more holistic meaning, with the ambit expanding from merely covering medical emergencies to including overall wellness.
35 per cent of the HR leaders who participated in the survey offer wellness services along with group health insurance. While wellness initiatives have remained a relatively uncharted territory, they nevertheless are gaining ground as a growing number of employers are now conducting wellness-centered employee engagement activities to boost employee productivity and talent retention.
Only 38 per cent of companies offer preventive care
Promoting better health is not limited to treating ailments, but it also includes preventing any major issues from arising.
At present, 38 per cent of Indian enterprises offer preventive care solutions as a part of their health benefits plan. Absences due to illness cost companies nearly $2 billion in revenue as per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. According to ASSOCHAM, including preventive care to employee health benefits can save enterprises over $20 million annually by reducing absenteeism.
Lifestyle-related diseases a cause for concern
Chronic ailments affect a large number of corporate workers, with 53 per cent of Indians in the age group of 26-40 years at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Hypertension and diabetes are the most common chronic ailments in India, affecting 75 million and 67 million people respectively, as per the Health of the Nation Report 2022.
According to this report, about 60 per cent people leave the treatment for their chronic conditions mid-way, owing to high out-of-pocket expenditure. WHO predicts about 70 per cent of deaths in India by 2030 will be due to chronic diseases.
Policy benchmarking shows cross-industry disparities
IT and education sectors have higher benchmarks with respect to employee insurance, with most enterprises assuring a sum of Rs 5 lakh with 1+5 family structure, maternity benefits of up to Rs 50,000, and neonatal and postnatal cover of Rs 5,000.
Mid-market benchmarking shows wide variation with respect to sum assured, with amounts ranging from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and maternity benefits ranging from Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000. A 1+3 family structure is followed throughout. SME across sectors seldom include maternity, prenatal, and postnatal covers, assure sums as low as Rs 2 lakh, and follow 1+3 family structure.
Only 8 per cent of companies offer hospitalisation assistance to employees
Standard employer-funded health coverage needs to evolve further to include hospitalisation support services, such as superlative care hospitals, specialty clinics, and protective checkups. Only 8 per cent of the respondents to the survey offer hospitalisation support to their employees, which includes lab discounts, OPD and annual health checkups.
Group Health Insurance - necessary but not sufficient
Most employers in India are providing their employees with Group Health Insurance, as 100 per cent of the survey respondents reported offering Group Health Insurance. The pandemic has driven HR leaders to reevaluate the health benefits offered to the employees, with employees acknowledging the medical inflation and stepping up to add Covid-related insurance to the health benefits they previously provided to their employees.
“India is home to one of the largest workforces in the world. Corporate India can transform the state of health for employees and their families, thereby changing the healthcare experience for a significant part of the nation. The over-reliance on group health insurance as the main/only health benefit is glaring and needs an immediate rethink. Our report has been carefully curated to aid HR leaders across the country in making informed decisions regarding the healthcare needs of the employees, and provide them with health benefits that actually work for them,” said Amrit Singh, co-founder, and CRO, of Loop.