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Combatting absenteeism one step at a time

03 August 2015 Karin Claassen, Momentum Health

The cost of employee absenteeism to South African businesses stands at R12 billion annually, according to Statistics SA. Impacting on productivity, staff morale and a company’s bottom line, it is a risk that requires increasingly more focus. Are you as financial/healthcare adviser empowered to provide a solution to this risk?

New healthcare legislation, along with the cost of providing medical scheme cover, makes it difficult to offer low-income earning employees affordable cover against illnesses and the consequent absenteeism.

End-to-end solutions

Several hospital insurance-type products are on offer as alternatives to full medical scheme cover, but fail to integrate these entry-level products with comprehensive healthcare solutions, so that employees of all income levels are catered for.

The typical South African business today requires an end-to-end healthcare solution which caters for members whom range from low-income earners to executives.

But to be a true business solution, the available products also need to take into account the typical risk factors facing members in different life stages and in varied socio-economic circumstances. While catering for these divergent needs, the overall solution needs to be holistic from the employer’s perspective, making life as easy as possible for the Human Resources department or the healthcare adviser when it comes to assisting staff in dealing with their healthcare cover provider.

Therefore, the ideal healthcare solution should not compromise on:

• Cover that is appropriate for the member in terms of life stage and income;
• Easy migration to more comprehensive options when the member’s needs have changed; and
• Seamless interaction between the healthcare cover provider and the business covered, irrespective of whether the members in question are on hospital cover or full medical schemes.

Seamless processes

Dealing with one healthcare funder across your client’s entire spectrum of staff not only makes it easier to deliver quick, seamless service, but when staff members are ready to migrate from entry-level to more comprehensive solutions, the process is much faster and easier.

An illustration of appropriate cover for a low-income earning employee would be a product that offers ambulance transfer to the nearest private hospital in case of an accident while commuting to or from work. Companies operating in Africa also place significant value on benefits relating to the treatment to HIV/Aids related conditions. Being able to add cover for day-to-day benefits to an entry-level solution is also proving increasingly popular, as companies doing so are seen to offer an even greater value-add to their employees.

A one stop shop

When your client’s staff members progress to higher-earning positions, they will already be familiar with the type of benefits, authorisation procedures and complementary products on offer, which in turn makes it easier for you as the adviser to guide them in their option choices.

For instance, a member on a low-income option might aspire to belong to a wellness and rewards programme associated with his or her healthcare provider, as he or she may see references to these and other value-added products when visiting the provider’s website. When the member is ready to upgrade, choosing more comprehensive healthcare cover could lead to him or her subscribing to additional products and having the knowledge to request advice on financial or insurance products as well.

Opt for experience

Given the pressures impacting financial service providers in terms of continued sustainability, legislative compliance and offering a competitive value-for-money offering, it would make sense to opt for a healthcare funder with years of experience in the healthcare industry, offering proven systems, strong provider relationships and the ability to manage claims costs effectively.

The good news is that the industry is being more carefully regulated, healthcare funders are shaping their products according to the actual needs of South African businesses and our country is probably still one of the best places to obtain healthcare cover that suits every employee, regardless of their life stage and socio-economic circumstances.

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