Over the years, companies have found various ways to incentivise their existing staff and attract excellent employees on the job market away from their competitors. They typically achieve these through attractive benefit packages which are given to employees as part of their terms of contract. These include sign-on bonus, duty-car or transportation allowance, accommodation or rent allowance, and Health insurance package to mention just a few.
While all the other packages may apply to only a few important employees who are indispensable, employee health insurance cover is one of the main packages which apply to employees across the board – though senior executives may enjoy some privileges in terms of the coverage and facilities they and their dependents can access. Health insurance coverage is very critical to prospective employees in Ghana, largely because the National Health Insurance Scheme does not cover a lot of ailments which are covered under the Private Commercial Health Insurance Scheme (PCHIS).
Simply put, PCHIS are companies that provide health insurance coverage to companies, individuals and groups – and in return these entities receive cover for medical expenses or treatments. These companies – such as Universal Health Insurance, Glico and Acacia design health insurance packages which cover health issues like surgical, dental, chronic and optical treatments.
Under such a scheme with the PCHIS, the employers pay a premium for their staff member alone or with their dependents for health coverage for a year. While most companies view expenses covering health insurance as extra cost on their books, it has enormous benefits for the staff, dependents, the company and nation as a whole.
Offering health insurance packages to your staff improves the company’s ability to attract more qualified staff over competitors who do not offer such a package. For instance, if two companies are offering a similar remuneration but one of them goes the extra mile of offering additional perks such as health insurance for staff and their dependents, they are likely to be chosen by prospective employees over the competitor since they will save the prospective employee a lot of money which would have gone into paying healthcare cost.
Health insurance benefits mark an employer as one of choice when desirable candidates select job opportunities. It shows that the company has employee-welfare at heart. The employees know that their dependents will be well taken care of should they become ill – and since the cash and carry system is quite expensive for individuals to afford, they will have peace of mind to concentrate on their work…and this ultimately leads to improved productivity.
Though some companies have special arrangements with some selected healthcare facilities to take care of the health needs of their staff and for their dependents to access, the location of such facilities may make it impossible for staff and dependents to access when they are outside the areas where such facilities are located.
However, private commercial health insurance companies such as Universal Health Insurance have facilities across all the ten regions of Ghana that clients and their dependents can access. Take a situation wherein an employee lives and works in one city while the wife and kids live in another city in a different region. In such a situation, it may be difficult for dependents to access the designated health facility.
On the other hand, if the employee is insured with a PCHIS his family will have access to one the numerous accredited facilities spread across the country. So, in such a situation where the company makes a special arrangement with a hospital in the town where it is located, the moment clients or their dependents travel outside the region, they have to resort to cash and carry or return to the region or town with the facilities to access healthcare. This greatly inconveniences employees and their dependents.
The availability of PCHIS reduces stress on the already over-stretched National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The NHIS, which is supposed to be a social intervention, was set up purposely to help the underprivileged in society access healthcare at a very affordable cost since the scheme is subvented by government. However, it is plagued with various challenges including funding and capitation.
If all companies in the country were required by law to take a benefit with the PCHIS, it would greatly reduce the burden on the NHIS and afford underprivileged people within society an opportunity to access good healthcare. This will eventually increase life expectancy and improve the population’s well-being.
Finally, the PCHIS health benefit plan offers guaranteed coverage – thus health insurance companies cover all applicants whose employment qualifies them for coverage as stipulated in the terms of the contract. For instance, if the package that a particular employee is assigned guarantees them both inpatient and outpatient benefit of say GH¢90,000 should the employee or their dependent becomes sick, all their medical expenses will be catered for to the tune of that sum assured without any dispute.
Employee health insurance coverage is a good benefit that all employees must consider to improve employee productivity, reduce absenteeism and boost employee morale.
Eric Ampah is the Chief Executive officer of Universal Health Insurance Limited based in Tema, Ghana. Eric is also a Doctor of Business Administration, DBA candidate with The Nobel International Business School. You can mail him [email protected]