It’s a disturbing trend: Kenyans seem to be getting less healthy with every passing year, thanks to the resurgence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
According to the Ministry of Health, non-communicable diseases are responsible for over 55% of deaths and further account for more than 50% of hospital admissions annually.
Non-communicable diseases are increasingly affecting the working-age population. This is becoming a concern for employers who risk losing productivity to sick leaves and health-related underperformance.
Many studies have shown that employees with lower levels of fitness and health miss more days of work than their healthier co-workers. Even worse, those less-physically-fit employees tend to produce less than their counterparts on the days when they are in the office.
Workers who devote time to regular physical exercise are able to accomplish more in the same amount of time, and report feeling more productive in general.
Needless to say, the cost of healthcare associated with employees’ health conditions is also taking an upward trend. While the medical insurance industry in Kenya recorded a growth of 0.65% in gross premiums in 2017, claims incurred over the same period increased by 12%.
An internal analysis by Kenindia Assurance reveals that several hospitals had increased their costs, twice as high, in 2017 compared to 2016. This is likely to affect claims given that premiums are fixed at the beginning of the year. On the other hand, hospitals increase their costs midway depending on their administrative and other market dynamics.
Medical Plans and Wellness Programs
Given the rapidly rising costs, it’s understandable that businesses everywhere are seeking innovative ways to nudge employees towards healthier behaviours that will, in turn, have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. This is the right thing to do.
Employers can play a key role through their medical plans and through the implementation of wellness and prevention programmes. More than ever, there is need to promote healthy behaviours and wellbeing in the workplace.
Kenindia Assurance, for instance, has been at the forefront of conducting wellness programmes biannually. It recommends retirement or pension plans; provision of good healthcare packages to achieve the five essential elements of wellbeing: purpose, social, financial, community and physical.