India: Hidden complexities in a region with low-flex benefits22.12.20
Global Benefits Director
When looking at global benefits technology, our simple to complex scale helps organisations to identify the level of complexity they need in each of their territories, based on individual locations and their benefits requirements. We then help organisations to prioritise their locations, and to get the most out of their whole platform, even in regions with limited options of flexible benefits.
But now it’s time to talk about real situations where we’ve taken people through this process, with a case study of an organisation who recently worked with Benefex to roll out a platform in India.
Background to employee benefits in India
Typically, India is a location with limited benefit options and low flexibility, with a reliance on state mandated benefits. The same could be said of many other locations, including France, Switzerland and Australia, where benefits are mostly fixed with little choice.
At first glance, you would expect an Indian benefits platform to be closer to the simple end of the scale, especially when you look at the typical benefits that are on offer. Most companies offer core benefits: Life insurance, personal accident, pension and medical. In addition, there may also be some allowances for wellbeing, meal vouchers and EAP access. There is, however, one key consideration in India; the complicated and extensive medical insurance plan.
Rolling a medical plan out in India
A customer came to us with a challenge:
“Hi Benefex, we have 2,800 employees in India across several sites. Our medical plan is causing a huge administerial as it is so complicated and time consuming. Employees are unclear on what benefits they have; they don’t value them, nor do they understand their options with healthcare. Can you help?”
Benefex: Challenge Accepted!
Medical benefits in India can be complicated
Funding for the medical plan is a mix:
- A core contribution from the company
- Optional additional contributions to enhanced coverage and add dependants at the employee’s cost
- Seven optional add-ons
- Permutations for dependants
So, the actual cost to an employee can became confusing very quickly. This was one of the key complaints from employees.
Furthermore, as is standard for medical plans in India (and several other countries), employees can add various family members including their spouse, children, parents and parents-in-law. All employees are funded for coverage for themselves, their partner, two children, and two parents. Additional children and parents can be added at the employee’s costs.
To further complicate the plan, parents, and parents-in-law can have a different level of cover to the employee, their partner, and children!
This challenge of complex plans also arises elsewhere in the world, where medical plans can be entirely voluntary, feature options on deductibles and hospital networks, or are linked to other benefits such as a health savings account. So luckily, we’re no stranger to a challenge!
What did we do?
Firstly, we automated the administration of the plan, saving our customer hours in administration. There was a dramatic reduction in admin across multiple categories, including membership, reporting, paperwork, and processing life events and changes.
In addition to this, the queries from the near 3,000 employees were overwhelming the local HR team. To relieve the pressure from these queries, an extensive FAQ section was developed which helped to educate employees on their specific questions.
What were the results?
As a result of the platform and FAQs, direct employee queries dropped to just a few per day, which was obviously more manageable for the HR team, but also helped ensure that the questions needing serious HR intervention were processed and turned around quicker and more efficiently.
Before we got involved in this project, the amount of administration required would have demanded a minimum of one full time employee.
Above all, however, the engagement and feedback from employees was positive, and allowed them to take up a plan that fitted their circumstances. At a time when communication and looking after employees is at the top of many company strategies, this served as a real illustration of how a difference can be made.
Find out more about how you could save time and resource with a global platform, in our report The Global Benefits of Investment.
Paul joined Benefex from Mercer in 2019 with a wealth of international benefits experience, having worked with a large number of high-profile, multinational clients to review their approach to global talent and reward. He leads Benefex’s global benefits delivery team and he’s doing an excellent job of it, if we may say so ourselves. He is skilled in international risk assessment and management, legislative compliance, trend research, cross-border claims, and customer relationship management. AND, he can speak fluent French, mais oui!