The importance of providing employee healthcare benefits cannot be overstated. They play a key role in attracting and retaining talent, enhancing productivity, reducing absenteeism, and driving employee engagement. By investing in their employees’ wellbeing, companies reap immediate benefits and create a foundation for long-term growth, sustainability, and success.
While most employers acknowledge the benefits of offering quality healthcare to their workforce, the soaring costs have made it a challenging endeavor. Consequently, many businesses provide fragmented healthcare benefits, leading to a divide within the company. Executives often have access to superior healthcare, while their other colleagues struggle to receive adequate medical support.
Healthcare in South Africa, a tale of two worlds
Only 16% of South Africans have access to private healthcare, and this already low percentage could well drop as our economic woes and cost-of-living crisis show no signs of abating. Medical inflation is expected to continue spiralling, with a recent Bloomberg report suggesting that medical inflation plays a significant role in driving overall inflation, and will hit 6.4% this year, up from 4.2% in 2022. Private healthcare, while excellent, is unaffordable for most South Africans and their employers. As a result, most South Africans rely on the public health system, which is chronically overburdened. Patients can spend a whole day seeking medical care and still not receive the optimal treatment.
The benefits to companies in providing more equitable access to healthcare
For employers, their employees’ lack of access to healthcare has significant impacts.
Reducing absenteeism. A survey by Sanlam revealed that companies with comprehensive healthcare benefits experienced a 28% reduction in absenteeism compared to those without such benefits. Access to healthcare leads to early diagnosis and treatment, minimising the impact of illnesses on employees’ work attendance. Today employers face high absenteeism as employees take time off to visit a doctor or spend a whole day queuing at a public health facility. Alternatively, employees delay seeking help on time due to the costs, and illness escalates to a level where time off work is even longer.
Increased Employee Retention. According to a study by Alexander Forbes, employees who receive healthcare benefits are 32% more likely to stay with their current employer compared to those without such benefits. This highlights the role of healthcare benefits in enhancing employee retention rates.
Enhanced Employee Productivity. The same Alexander Forbes study found that companies offering healthcare benefits experienced increased productivity by up to 18% among employees who utilised the provided healthcare services effectively.
Attracting Top Talent. According to a survey by PwC, 76% of job seekers consider healthcare benefits a critical factor when deciding on a job offer. Offering attractive healthcare benefits can significantly improve a company’s ability to attract top talent in the highly competitive job market.
Mental Health: a burning platform for organisations. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) estimates that providing mental health support to employees can lead to a 35% increase in productivity. Additionally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that for every $1 invested in mental health treatment, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.
Healthtech startups bridging the divide
Technology has already shown how it can disrupt whole sectors to create new business models that deliver undreamed-of benefits. Think of mobile banking, online shopping, anytime/ anywhere working, insurance quotes on your phone, and so on… whole industries reconfigured.
Technology has already made many parts of the medical ecosystem more efficient, but we have yet to realize its potential to disrupt the whole sector fundamentally. That disruption is now happening as a new brand of technology-enabled providers comes online intending to offer truly affordable healthcare. A key pillar of this new approach is the use of a smartphone app to allow consumers to connect to medical professionals very quickly without having to take time off. Travel costs are eliminated as well.
Kena Health is pioneering affordable quality healthcare and mental healthcare for employees
Apps like Kena Health allow patients to connect to a doctor, nurse, or mental health professional in minutes from the comfort of their smartphone. Once the consultation is complete, a sick note and/or prescription is sent to the patient’s phone. In this way, day-to-day medical conditions— anything from colds and flu to sexually transmitted diseases to diarrhea and vomiting—can be diagnosed and treated, and ongoing support for chronic conditions provided.
Mental health issues can also be addressed in this way, with complete privacy and relative anonymity, given the online interface.
Employers can now leverage the Kena Health platform to provide basic primary healthcare and mental healthcare for up to three consultations per year per employee at an incredibly affordable rate, starting as low as R38 per employee per month. These packages can be customised to suit specific needs and continually refined using anonymised data from the workforce. By identifying trends in employee health issues, businesses can implement targeted interventions to address problems such as prevalent backaches or the root causes of high absenteeism.
“We have seen large corporates, small businesses, and tech startups coming on board. They are delighted to offer their employees access to quality coverage at a fraction of the cost of a traditional medical scheme,”. says Joshila Shiba, Growth Executive at Kena Health.
The future of employee wellness lies in innovative healthcare solutions that bridge the gap between affordability and access. By embracing technology-driven platforms like Kena Health, businesses can revolutionise their employee healthcare benefits, ultimately fostering a healthier, more engaged, and more productive workforce.