The importance of providing good medical insurance to promote health and general well-being to individuals cannot be overstated – especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. Many African countries have their own laws surrounding medical insurance coverage within the workplace. However, there are discrepancies between this increasingly employee-centric approach to work and the actual legal frameworks in place in some of these countries. Some nations mandate medical insurance, while others do not, with employees still expecting to receive coverage, nonetheless.
Read on to find out about the broad strokes, nuances, and subtleties of medical insurance in Africa.
Medical insurance, as the name implies, refers to a health care plan or arrangement that pays for or provides medical or health care services, whether by insurance or otherwise to an individual or a group of people. This often includes hospital and medical expense-incurred policies, nonprofit hospital and medical service plans as well as other health care plans or arrangements.
In a professional setting, medical insurance may be fully paid for by the employer. It is also common for employers and employees to split these costs, with both parties covering a percentage of these expenses.
In some African countries like Benin (since January 1st, 2022 under Law 37 of 2020), health insurance is mandated by law, which means that employers are under the obligation to provide their employees with this benefit. Employers must also ensure that they are providing this benefit in a compliant way, which may mean considering details such as dental and prescription drug plans. Failure to comply leaves a company vulnerable to lawsuits and to punitive fines by local authorities.
In other countries where it is not an obligation, some employers still insist on offering coverage to their employees for these reasons:
As part of their internal culture, many companies – especially multinationals – will extend medical insurance as a benefit to all their employees. This helps them attract a wider pool of candidates during recruitment processes and later on boost employee retention. An employee who feels that their company cares about their well-being beyond what the law states will naturally feel valued. And employees who feel appreciated stay in employment longer, reducing volatility within the company and ultimately helps the organization save up on the costs of hiring and training new employees. As such, what may at first seem like an unnecessary expense may in fact contribute to lower HR costs in the long run.
As simple as it may sound, healthy employees are more productive. An employee who does not receive the medical attention they need or who receives poor quality treatment will, quite naturally, not perform to their topmost ability. Giving out medical insurance helps companies ensure that their talents will be able to give their best at work. This is especially important for employees who do physically taxing jobs or who are exposed to injury through the nature of their jobs.
Employers who wish to go beyond the basic plans offered by most insurance policies may consider adding other benefits such as dental, optical, maternity, mental health and prescription drug plans among others. While most of them are not necessarily mandatory, providing an extensive medical insurance package only adds value to what you can offer to your prospective or current talents – thus boosting your company’s retention rate.
Africa being a vast continent, there are different stances on medical insurance across nations, each with their unique regional and cultural twists that add to the complexity of the matter.
In Togo for example, employers have to pay for their staff’s medical insurance.
In South Africa, on the other hand, employers are not required to offer their staff private health insurance plans. The public health sector in South Africa is generally thought to be poor in comparison to other private health alternatives, which is why the insurance premium penetration rate in the country is at 13.6% – the highest on the continent. So, while coverage is not mandated by law, it may be expected and this is a subtlety, among many others, that employers must be particularly aware about lest they unknowingly commit a faux pas.
In Mauritius and in Burkina Faso, like in many other African countries, medical insurance is not a mandatory benefit.
Matters get even more complicated when you factor in other medical insurance options such as a “Group Medical Insurance” scheme. This type of insurance covers a group of workers rather than a single individual. The difficulty then lies in choosing which option best fits your workers’ needs as well as your allocated budget.
Choosing a medical insurance provider is difficult enough in one’s own country – but to do so abroad, in an African country one knows very little about, is infinitely more challenging. It is easy to fall prey to unscrupulous service providers or to simply choose one that does not provide you with the greatest possible value. It is therefore crucial to consider the following factors when choosing a medical insurance provider anywhere in Africa:
It is important to do a background check for a potential service provider, ensuring that they have a good track record with local clients.
An insurance provider should have a selection of plans at different price points to satisfy your workers’ insurance needs and your budget.
Our Employer of Record (EOR) solution makes dispensing mandatory and optional benefits easy, all the while complying with local labour law. By opting for EOR services, you not only gain access to the best coverage your employees deserve, but you also protect your business from non-compliance risks. Gone is the stress of finding the right insurance provider/plan for your employees. Thanks to our strategic partnerships across the entirety of Africa, we ease the burden of finding the best compliant medical insurance solutions for your talents.
Grant Geraghty is the longest-serving member of the Africa HR team. This resident subject matter expert and client champion is responsible for gaining a deep understanding of our clients’ unique HR needs in Africa and providing tailored solutions that align with their business objectives. Grant collaborates closely with our clients to ensure that their requirements are properly implemented, providing ongoing support and guidance throughout the process.
Grant brings a wealth of experience to his role, having served as Africa HR’s longest-serving employee. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Economics and Business Finance, from the University of Natal in South Africa. Additionally, he has completed a certification program in Payroll and Tax Administration from the University of Cape Town, further enhancing his expertise in HR operations and compliance.
His commitment to delivering exceptional service and his extensive knowledge of HR in Africa make him an invaluable member of the Africa HR team.
Kevina Takoordyal has a BA Hons Business Management from the University of Glamorgan, UK, with MBA in leadership and Innovation, MBA General, PMP Certified, and Agile Scrum Master. She currently works as the Head of Operations at Africa HR Solutions Ltd with more than 20 years of proven leadership capabilities in Operations, Business Development, People Management, Process Optimization, and Project Management in the Financial Services, BPO, Banking Industry, and Heath Care Industry. In Senior leadership roles with an international footprint across Europe working and extensive Pan- African experience from a compliance, finance, and operations angle, Kevina comes across with a panoply of cross-functional skills. Kevina also serves on a few Boards, Non-Independent Executive at MioD and for NGOs on a voluntary basis, a coach and mentor to aspiring female leaders across Africa and Mauritius.
Kevina is a firm believer in Servant Leadership with a strong focus and commitment to uplifting others, with the ability to deliver through a highly engaged – diverse team, and works towards consistently synergistic value creation. While being a focused and adaptive thinker and Kevina is actively participating in panel discussions on Innovation, CX, Digital transformation.
Kevina serves as Project Assessor for the National Youth upskilling program. She has been recognized as Global Talent in a few companies, Ceridian, and International SOS Ltd whereby she has been awarded a few scholarships and had the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Vice President in the US. Award Winner in various fields and at a national level and recognized including Super Achiever Leader Award in Africa in 2016, Awarded Africa Women Leader 2018.
Viloshna is an experienced finance professional with 18 years of expertise in strategic financial planning, financial analysis, cash flow management, systems and controls implementation, financial reporting, and continuous process improvements. She currently serves as Head of Finance & Business Support, where she has successfully automated and leveraged the financial reporting system capabilities to ensure efficient company operations.
Viloshna’s background includes senior roles in a multinational pharmaceutical company and a large listed Mauritian conglomerate. Her meticulous attention to detail and strategic thinking have streamlined financial processes, making her a valuable addition to any finance team. Viloshna is a qualified finance professional with an FCCA qualification and an MBA, bringing valuable expertise to any organization.
In her current role, Viloshna leads the company’s Treasury and Payments function, including the fulfillment of the company’s cross-border payments into Africa. With her strong educational background and extensive experience, Viloshna consistently demonstrates her ability to optimize financial operations, minimize risks, and improve profitability. Her expertise in financial reporting and process improvements make her a valuable asset to any organization.
A qualified lawyer who joined Africa HR Solutions in July 2020, Mark Du Preez has experience working in private practice for a reputable law firm in South Africa. He also played commercially focused roles at a leading private bank, wealth management company, and outsourcing firm in South Africa and Mauritius.
Mark has played a pivotal role in Africa HR Solution’s risk mitigation strategy, which positively impacted P&L performance over the years.
He currently leads the Partnerships function of the company including relationships and oversight with in-country partners (ICPs) across Africa.
Alex has more than 15 years of experience in the global, strategic development of both enterprise and consumer brands in categories including technology, transport, enterprise software, entertainment, and travel.
With experience in roles on both agency and corporate side, he has worked across international brands and has led the development and execution of multi-discipline campaigns across EMEA, NORAM and Asia Pacific.
His focus is on driving meaningful business impact through brand differentiation and building high-functioning, digitally oriented, and analytically driven capabilities. He is motivated by working with, and developing dynamic people, teams, and organizations.
He leads, manages, develops and mentors the Key Account Management department, including line management responsibility for the team of Key Account Managers and Key Account Administrator who represent the Company as the primary communication link between all relevant stakeholders, including clients, third party in-country partners and internal functions.
Originally from Mauritius, he holds bachelor’s degrees in International Business, Finance and Management from the University of Nevada, Reno.