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  • Writer's pictureRajat Chauhan

Bracing for Impact: How 2024's Surging Health Insurance Costs Affect Employers and Employees


As India crosses into 2024, health insurance policies for employer-sponsored groups are poised to witness massive inflation in premium prices. The large premium increases pose a major challenge for companies and employees. This comes on top of the existing financial problems being created by fears of a global recession.

 

Let’s examine the key drivers of surging group insurance costs, policy-level and organisational implications, and strategies corporates can adopt to ensure employee well-being while managing escalating financial burdens in a balanced approach.

Understanding the Core Factors Influencing Price Rises

Several structural shifts collectively explain the projected surge in employer-provided health insurance plan premiums by 2024:


Medical Inflation

Underlying healthcare costs are inflating 10-12% approx. Yearly, spanning hospital charges, new drug expenses, etc. Group policy charges link to these fundamental rises.


Increased Claim Ratios

A higher incidence of lifestyle diseases among the active workforce and dependents leads to a greater number of reimbursement claims from insurers annually, necessitating price hikes to balance ratios.


Diversified Treatment Options

Rising affluence is enabling employees to opt for extras like private rooms, robotic surgeries, alternative treatments, etc., warranting overall cover expansion and, hence, price rises.


Implications of Price Hikes on Insurance Policies

At a policy level, the considerable premium increases translate into:

 

Reduced Base Covers: To absorb some pricing shocks, companies may cut down on optional add-ons or spare some special treatments.


Introduction of Co-payments: Employers may implement proportionate medical expense sharing through co-pays and deductibles to contain their overall outgo towards insurance.


Disease-wise Sub-limits: Capping claim amounts for expensive illnesses like cancer and kidney failures based on disease stages checks outlier exposures for insurers.


Employee Grade-linked Differences: Bifurcated policy structures with covers varying as per employee bands allow optimising expenses matching to salaries.


Incentivising Preventive Health: Enhanced wellness benefits around preventive health checkup and fitness memberships hope to contain future claim risks through proactive management rewarded monetarily. However, enterprises need strategies to look inward, too, for sustainability.


Organisational Imperatives to Balance Cost Pressures

Rising group health plan costs also trigger company-wide changes around:

Human Resource Budget Overhauls

With medical insurance premiums rising almost 25% of CTC components, HR mandates detailed hiring planning and balancing budgets.


Staff Communication Reinforcement

HR sensitisation around judicious hospitalisation helps contain incidents of unwarranted claims or outrageous expenses for minor ailments.


Lifestyle Disease Management

Biometric health checks coupled with targeted monitoring programs strive to keep lifestyle condition occurrences under control.


Insurance Partner Evaluation

Actuarial pricing benchmarking across TPA tie-ups helps shift group policies, offering optimal rates even if requiring adjusted coverage.


Wellness Intervention Investment

Companies self-fund specialised medical expertise for fitness regimens and chronic illness coaching to minimise future claim risks that spiral premiums.


Key Actionables for Employer and Staff

Faced with surging insurance premiums, proactive mitigation on both ends will help ease the transition:

 

●  Set Realistic Budgets: Companies need to account for at least a 20% rise in insurance outlay in operating budgets, factoring in medical inflation.


●   IT Systems Upgrade: Ensure internal process digitisation supports seamless handling of increased claim volumes and integration with insurer data layers.


●  Staff Communication: Appraise employees on policy choices and trade-offs, helping them make informed hospitalisation decisions.


● Preventive Care: By undertaking regular health screening tests, lifestyle disease markers monitoring and fitness regimens, staff play a pivotal role in reducing future claim costs.


Moderate Claims: Staff should evaluate cheaper hospitals within the network or explore step-down care where possible before submissions.


The Bottom Line

Rising health insurance costs are putting pressure on companies and staff in 2024. But with some proactive steps, they can manage the situation carefully. Firms need to pick the right plans and track staff health. Employees should avoid unnecessary claims. Doing this together will help deal with the higher premiums gradually. With companies and staff taking responsibility along with better public care, the health insurance challenges in 2024 can be tackled while ensuring prosperity.


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