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While corporate healthcare and wellness programs aren’t a new-age phenomenon, they are no longer a niche offering provided by companies few and far between. For instance, 92% of employers with 200 or more employees offered wellness programs. Not just that, around 22% of small businesses and startups too have healthcare programs. 

From reducing health risks to providing a safety net to the employees, these programs seem to have it all (at least on paper!). Employer-sponsored healthcare plans offer unending benefits to everyone, but they seem to fail often; why?

For starters, according to a survey, 69% of employees aren’t even aware of the healthcare programs offered by their employers. But, before we jump into the reasons, let’s take a quick glance at the current situation of employee health across the country.

State of  Employee Health in India

It shouldn’t surprise you that most corporate employees in India struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle—both physically as well as mentally. A study by ASSOCHAM states that 43% of employees in India suffer from depression, while at least 23% suffer from obesity. Other diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, slip disk, and arthritis are quite common,too.

The prevalence of such diseases and conditions would warrant a robust and successful corporate healthcare program. Yet, that is not the case—mostly because of the gap between what employees need and what employers think that they need.

6 Reasons Why Why Employee Healthcare Programs Often Fail

1. Cut, Copy, and Paste?

Corporate wellness programs took off in the USA, often accredited to Johnson & Johnson’s Live for Life program which began in 1979. Since then, wellness programs have come a long way and are a $6 billion industry there. Even though these programs have faced many challenges, MNC and HRs have replicated it in India. 

While introducing these programs is a commendable step, the problem is most of them aren’t tailored for the Indian market. More often than not, the idea gets lost in translation—therefore, it’s a business imperative to consider an average Indian’s mindset towards employee health programs before offering them to your employees. .

For example, Indian employees are more likely to visit a local physician first or rely on home-based treatments rather than visit a large network hospital. However, most insurance plans do not make any provisions for reimbursing home-based healthcare and/or local consultations. A lot of wellness programs also focus on offering kale luncheons, pilates sessions, and other seemingly foreign offerings that do not cater to an Indian audience. 

While it’s okay to implement an idea that is aimed towards improving healthcare and wellness of employees, you should also focus on prioritizing and tailoring what you want based on your employees’ needs.

2. Inadequate Sum Insured

Sum insured is the maximum amount an Insurance company pays you for your medical expenses every year. In all likelihood, it’s often not enough. 

The idea of providing group health insurance for your employees is becoming increasingly popular today. However, one of the main reasons corporate healthcare programs fail is that they haven’t caught up with India’s rising healthcare costs.

Most companies decide on the sum insured based on the premium that they have to pay. They do not consider the end-user, aka the employee, and that healthcare costs aren’t a one-size-fits-all expense. The amount any person spends on healthcare is directly related to their lifestyle, income, and location.

For instance, an employee who visits tier-A hospitals (Fortis, Apollo, etc.) is going to have higher medical expenses than someone who visits tier-B or tier-C hospitals. On top of the treatment costs, there are additional expenses like room rent, ICU and medicine charges to name a few.

As an employer, you must consider all these aspects before deciding on the final sum insured. A comprehensive employee health insurance policy puts employees at the forefront to ensure that they receive all the benefits. Click here to know how you can decide on an adequate SI.  

3. Excludes the Family

Many corporate healthcare plans unknowingly exclude an important aspect of an employee’s wellbeing; their family. Even if a single person in a family is battling a medical emergency, the whole family bears the situation’s emotional and financial brunt. 

An average employee falls in the age bracket of 27-39. While they might be young, hale, and hearty, any health emergency in their family will affect their mental wellbeing.

For this reason, providing health cover to their dependents like parents, spouses, and children assures them that their family's well-being is being taken care of. This often translates into a peaceful state of mind for the employee. They not only feel valued by their employer but are also able to perform better in the absence of financial stress.  

4. Privacy Concern

One common aspect of all corporate wellness programs is ‘health assessments’.

Many companies administer ‘health assessments” annually or semi-annually as a preventative measure to detect diseases as early as possible. They usually include a medical exam, and lifestyle questions about their smoking/drinking habits.

While these are usually free, there are several reasons why an employee might opt out of employer-sponsored health assessments. Many employees are concerned about privacy and how their medical information is handled by external parties. This concern is quite natural for any participant. 

A solution for this would be to gain the trust of your employees by increasing awareness around the importance of health assessments and assuring them about the confidentiality of the process. 

5. Lack of Employee Input 

External agencies design corporate wellness programs. These plans are further selected by senior management with little-to-no input from the employees. They are more or less missing from this equation during the decision-making process. 

More often than not, such programs design plans that don’t provide any real incentive. Similarly, they just don’t prove interesting enough for many employees to participate in. 

If you want to set up a corporate wellness program that actually benefits the employees, you should start by assembling a wellness committee.

This committee should have senior employees from different departments. This ‘wellness committee’ is responsible for deciding the healthcare program. For instance, if you have several departments in your company, you can choose the heads from each department as a representative. 

These representatives can come together to discuss which plans work and which don’t. Not only will it help increase the effectiveness of the program, but it will also ensure that your efforts are not going to waste.

6. Inclusive But Not Customised

Corporate healthcare and wellness programs are designed to reach as many people as possible, which is a good thing. But, they take a blanket approach towards healthcare programs. Doing so often leaves employees with benefits that they may never use. 

 that leaves a good percentage of the employees out of the program or offers benefits that they might never use.

For instance, not everyone in your company will need a Pre-Existing Disease(PED) cover. A PED or a Pre-Existing Disease cover is applicable only for those who suffer from an illness before availing an insurance policy. Similarly, only employees who are married will want a maternity or new-born cover to plan for the future of their family. 

The best approach to avoid this mistake would be to provide customizations that you can tailor to your employees' needs to ensure maximum coverage and participation. 

What Should You Do?

Corporate healthcare and wellness programs are a necessity. However, it is also crucial to address the current gap between what’s being offered vs. what the employees need. The only way to solve this is by striking a balance between these two factors. 

As an employer, you can offer a comprehensive healthcare program for your employees with the option of customizing certain bits, as per the employees’ needs.   

We hope that the above points help you identify some of the most common mistakes companies make while implementing healthcare programs. 

If you’re looking for a solution that offers customization, digitization, and high-quality health insurance coverage, Plum is the way to go.