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.