Employers are shelling out more money to ensure their employees have a benefits programme that supports more than just their physical health.
By Zee Johnson
Recently, organisations in India have been investing more in their healthcare programmes, mainly due to a shift in focus to well-being and employees’ fear of being afflicted by COVID-19. In fact, this year, healthcare spending and utilisation is expected to greatly increase across Asia, especially in India, because of ongoing COVID-19 treatments and complications, as well as mental health issues that may have come as a result.
A recent Mercer Marsh Benefit report revealed that employer-sponsored benefits costs in India are expected to rise by 15% this year, the highest in the APAC region. Insurance claims have also increased with COVID-19-related hospitalisations and deaths still ongoing.
The top claim, as according to the MMB report, was emotional and mental health risk, and this year, two-thirds of insurers will continue to cover COVID-19-related claims like this.
Further, 33% of insurers are currently providing or covering virtual mental health counselling and per the survey, 60% of Indian employees rated mental well-being and counseling at as “highly” or “extremely” valuable.
Another top coverage for insurers has been non-communicable diseases, which includes preventive care and management for cancer, circulatory diseases, and more. In India alone, the report found that cancer (55%), diseases of the circulatory system (43%), and COVID-19 (36%) were the top medical claims in Asia last year. In addition, respiratory diseases (47%), gastrointestinal diseases (36%), and COVID-19 (34%) were the most frequent claims.
Whilst many employees have not filed claims, this may be because they have undergone preventative measures like taking the COVID-19 vaccine and undergoing regular health screenings and assessments. Sixty per cent of respondents said that home test kits and wearable devices that manage conditions like diabetes and heart matters were extremely valuable. And 70% of insurers are now offering or covering telemedicine services which supports prevention, means for self-care, and provides treatment for simple sicknesses like the cold or flu.
Organisations are realising that it is pertinent to create effective employee benefits programmes that encourage them to run efficiently. Offering comprehensive benefits which includes mental health and well-being support is dually beneficial for both employees and employers.