The union’s budget for 2022 was announced with great fanfare. We have eagerly awaited the funds allocated to the health sector. While some promising features were added to help public health – tele-mental health centers, digitization of the health ecosystem, improvement of lagging districts in the health system, the whole health system had mixed feelings about this budget. While digitizing the system is a welcome change, considering digital therapies and allocating funds or developing policies to help the public benefit from them could have been a huge step forward in improving public health.
However, this might be a far-fetched dream for the big names in the DTx field as there are still many pain points to be resolved at this time and one of them remains the perennial debate over insurance coverage and diabetes in a country that is the diabetes capital of the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the estimated number of diabetes patients between the ages of 20 and 79 is 74.2 million in 2021 and is expected to reach 124.8 million in 2045.
A campaign in August 2021 showed startling data – For people over 40, with a BMI over 23 and a family history of type 2 diabetes, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases 40 times. Additionally, with over 90 million people living with prediabetes, 70% will convert to type 2 diabetes within the next 5-10 years. From these figures, it is clear that the burden of diabetes carries with it the economic burden of its treatment and care.
Ten years ago, it was difficult to buy insurance for people with diabetes because of the risk involved. Nevertheless, government policies and specific diabetes insurance have been rolled out, seeing the numbers rise. There are many plans that one can choose from. However, it can still be difficult to find an insurance policy that covers all costs (medications, hospitalization, complications from comorbidities) to relieve financial stress. One way to curb this socio-economic problem is to make corporate insurance coverage for diabetes mandatory. There are various advantages to this approach:
It eases the economic burden of labor: A study published in 2007 suggests that approximately $2.2 billion would be needed to sufficiently treat all cases of type 2 diabetes in India. Another study suggests that by 2025, most people with diabetes in developing countries will be in the 45-64 age bracket, threatening the country’s economic productivity and people’s ability to earn a living. life. Having corporate insurance coverage for diabetes can help cover costs, get timely check-ups, and take preventative measures to avoid complications.
Enables better productivity and ensures fast processing: In the urban popular section, medical and hospitalization costs have always been a concern. A zone study published in 2020 showed that the median direct cost of diabetes was estimated at ₹18,890/- pa for North Zone, ₹10,585/- pa for South Zone, ₹45,792/- pa for Zone northeast and ₹8822/- pa for the western area. Similarly, the median indirect cost of diabetes was ₹18,146/- pa for North Zone, ₹1,198/- pa for South Zone, ₹18,707/- pa for Northeast and ₹3,949/- not for the west zone. If the employer grants this fee waiver, it becomes a huge relief for the employees to do timely testing and reduce the number of absenteeism due to diabetes complications. A 2007 ICRIER survey showed that almost a quarter of companies lose about 14% of their annual working days (more than 51 days a year) to illness, and an equal percentage of loss of their productivity.
and profits. If we take the case of diabetes, an estimate of the loss to an organization due to absenteeism, loss of productivity of peers, subordinates and managers due to a disease like diabetes is around INR 180,000 per year.
This improves employee well-being and also leads to a happy work culture: Including corporate diabetes insurance would also help boost employee morale, a company that cares, thrives best with its workforce willing to push the boundaries. Furthermore, if the financial burden of diabetes treatment and care can be eased, it can also lead to a happy work culture. In our initial data from Fitterfly, we found that some of these changes and benefits extend beyond the employee to the entire family.
A better plan with better coverage: For an individual, finding an insurance policy that can meet their needs, with a diagnosis such as diabetes, can be difficult, but if large companies take steps to secure employees with diabetes, insurance companies can deploy policies that cover co-morbidities or offer better benefits. that an individual plan, although that seems a long way off at the moment, but could become a possibility with companies getting ready to require diabetes insurance coverage.
Besides incorporating diabetes insurance into business plans, organizations can also focus on preventative healthcare plans to address lifestyle disease issues before they are too late. Integrating DTx programs is one way to do this. Additionally, helping employees live better lives by promoting the behavioral changes that are at the heart of DTx programs can also help save company funds and improve collective workforce productivity.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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