Business India Collective insurance Coverage of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments is woefully low despite growing concerns about the sexual health of working women and infertility problems due to work-related stress, according to a study by the Health Insurance Corporation of Plum employees.
The report, titled “The Reproductive and Sexual Health of Working Women”, calls for urgent “structural change” to alleviate stress among working women.
Plum research reveals that work-related stress has impacted women’s sexual health, causing conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, etc., which leads to infertility. He said one in five Indian women suffer from PCOS, one of the leading causes of infertility, attributed to job stress among other factors.
Plum Co-Founder and CEO, Abhishek Poddar, says, “For a very long time, infertility was beyond the purview of insurance. This makes the need for structural change urgent.
Start-ups such as Meesho and Darwinbox offer IVF coverage, but it is still weak at pan-Indian level. Plum said nearly 2% of its customers, including Meesho, Darwinbox and Epifi, have onboarded IVF coverage. Brands like Google and Flipkart also have IVF coverage in their group insurance policies.
Director of Plum Kriti Rastogi said, “An IVF treatment costs around Rs. 1.5 lakhs, laparoscopy around Rs. 75,000 and a hysterectomy costs between Rs 1.32 lakh and Rs. 2.75 lakh. However, most companies in India do not cover these treatments under their group health insurance.
He added that “companies should seek ideal coverage without any restrictions on procedures. As part of a comprehensive policy, no treatment, even if considered optional, will be rejected.”
Highlighting women’s sexual health as an “alarming concern”, the report also cites government and World Bank data on biased employment of women in the country.
According to World Bank data, female employment in India has fallen by 9% in 2022 since the Covid-19 outbreak. Recent Union budget statistics also show female employability at 51.44%, he said.
The study noted that if companies adopt measures to strengthen maternity coverage, menstrual leave, etc., to encourage female employment, IVF coverage is essential.
The Plum survey showed that 52% of participants had difficulty managing their health at work, and 20%, or one in five women, suffered from PCOS, which accounts for 80% of infertility cases.
Despite the urgency, many companies have yet to cover their group’s expensive IVF treatments
insurance policies, “reinforcing stress and discomfort for women in the labor market,” Rastogi said.