Private healthcare systems on the African continent are rapidly growing and improving, with key healthcare and evacuation hubs like Nairobi in Kenya, Johannesburg in South Africa and Rabat in Morocco, making it possible to access top quality care in-continent. This is attracting greater medical spend for services on African soil and greatly reducing the need for costly overseas evacuations.
“An increasingly robust and sustainable health insurance industry supports the development of African medical hubs. In turn, as more medical care can be performed in-continent, the purchase of comprehensive cover has become more affordable,” says CEO of Liberty Health, Andrew Schwulst.
Where many corporate companies with an African footprint have in the past only been able to afford restricted coverage for their employees, it is now possible to purchase health insurance that covers day-to-day care, hospital stays and emergency evacuations for entire staff contingencies if required.
“Comprehensive health insurance is a key part of a company’s employee value offering. To know that you or your family will receive top quality care in a crisis is important for working professionals,” says Schwulst.
Human resource teams around the world are currently reviewing their employee health and wellness benefits for the coming year. Balancing budgets and benefits can be challenging, as employee health needs are varied and unpredictable. Within a growing insurance product market, it is becoming increasingly difficult for employers to select quality healthcare coverage with strong local networks to deliver the care.
When it comes to health insurance, consistency and population-level risk pooling is key. For instance, 20% of a membership pool usually accounts for 80% of medical costs paid by a health insurance scheme. “It is a small number of staff members who will account for the greatest spend, but that spend is what will save a life or prevent financial difficulties for a family,” says Divisional Director of Product Design at Liberty Health, Katy Caldis.
A second key consideration is whether there are limits on days spent in hospital, especially intensive care units; “Paying for hospital care or specialist treatment out-of-pocket is not an option for most families – the cost of a health crisis or prolonged ICU stay is simply too great for them to absorb,” says Caldis. “Packages that put upper limits on the amount that can be spent in hospital could jeopardise the health outcome and the lives of those insured.”
A final key consideration, according to Caldis, is maternity care benefits. “Pregnancy and childbirth are important and expensive healthcare events in the lives of employees and their families. To have this covered by an employer is a significant employee benefit,” says Caldis.
Pregnancy is also a period in which preventative, prenatal and postnatal care is critical for the mother and the baby to ensure a safe delivery and optimal early childhood development; “The last thing you want is for women to delay scans and medical advice because they are not covered for treatment during the time surrounding their pregnancy,” says Caldis.
Rather than cutting vital benefits for the sake of curbing expenditure, companies like Liberty Health are focussing on promoting medical service delivery both in-country and in-continent, whilst still enabling wider access to healthcare, for example in Europe and Asia, for those who choose it.
“We want to support the sustainable development of world-class facilities and specialists on African soil, so, while there are cases where in-country care is not available to deliver and evacuation is required, we enable access to quality care locally for the majority of healthcare needs in the 22 countries where we provide health insurance solutions,” says Caldis.
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Lynette Erasmus: Head of Marketing, Health