Ranjan Sinha

December 18, 2020

Better Health For Better Coverage

When we look at the 54% increase in Employee Health insurance costs from where it was in 2009, it pays to be in good health for employees and employers alike. A closer look shows that employee contributions to health insurance have gone up by a whopping 71.1%.

It, however, pays to dig deeper and ask some pertinent questions.

  • Why did insurance rates rise?
  • How does it matter to an individual?
  • What can we do about it?

Why health insurance costs are on the rise

With the fundamentals of health insurance being that providers bet on you not falling ill, the odds tend to stack up against you when you do and file insurance claims.

For example:

Gastrointestinal issues resulted in 5 million hospitalizations and cost over $150 billion in direct and indirect costs.

At the employer’s level, the odds stack up faster and higher if the number of claims filed and their cumulative value rises. Furthermore, over 40% of US citizens suffer from obesity, which in turn increases the risk of a plethora of conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, and diabetes. Thus, insurance costs are on the rise.

And as employers find ways to provide reasonable health insurance coverage, exclusions are bound to rise, increasing the burden on employee health, and productive hours lost.

How does it matter?

While it may not exactly be linear, the effect of ill health on productivity is both measurable and tangible, estimated at approximately 14.3% of the working time - in other words, 6 hours a week. With the average per-capita income of $53,280 per year (approximately $25.6 an hour) and approximately 312 hours lost each year due to ill-health, the average loss of productivity due to ill-health is $7992 a year.

We live in an age where ideas, inventions, innovation, and creativity are the buzzwords of business, and imagine how difficult, or rather how much longer one would take to come up with those “disruptive” ideas and innovations if they were sick! On the other hand, recognizing mental health issues and preventing burnout find themselves among the top trends employees seek at workplaces.

Employers need to promote health among their workforce, and not just by providing healthcare coverage.

What can be done about it?

There are examples of efforts taken towards improving health, with some companies mandating gym time as one of the KPIs of performance. While fitness criteria are good to have at the workplace, there are other more inclusive ways of addressing physical, physiological, and mental health.

Recent studies into the gut microbiome have shown evidence that changes in the microenvironment affect the digestive tract and can be the cause of several gastrointestinal disorders as well as contribute to conditions like obesity. At Digbi Health, we focus on research-oriented therapeutic approaches to tackling obesity and gastric health. Using a combination of exercise and diet suggestions based on the analysis of each individual’s gut microbiota and genetic parameters, we offer personalized programs combined with a digital application to track progress.

At Digbi Health, we understand the risks insurance providers assess and have found that:

  • promoting good health reduces claims thus reducing future insurance costs,
  • the benefits also reach well beyond insurance claims, such as better productivity and engagement at work.
  • To understand how the Digbi Health intervention can help directly and indirectly impact employee well-being, talk to us!

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