Mon | Oct 14, 2019

Sagicor introduces coupon health plans for small businesses

Published:Wednesday | August 28, 2019 | 12:15 AMAvia Collinder/Business Reporter
Christopher Zacca, president and chief executive officer, Sagicor Group Jamaica.
Christopher Zacca, president and chief executive officer, Sagicor Group Jamaica.

Sagicor Life, a subsidiary of Sagicor Group Jamaica, has customised six new plans for small businesses which need health coverage for employees.

The company has not shared the new coverage levels and payments attached, but said that the plans are now more affordable than standard company offerings available up to now.

In a response channelled through its communications unit, the health insurance provider said “there has always been interest by this segment (small businesses) to have health insurance for their teams, but it has been difficult to access until now”.

A national health plan drafted by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and tabled in Parliament earlier this year indicated that about 500,000 of the 2.7 million people living in Jamaica have health insurance, leaving behind more than 80 per cent of the population to fund healthcare out of pocket, engage in months-long waits for diagnostic tests or surgical operations, or wait hours to receive general observation.

Sagicor is targeting small businesses with its new health plan. The government defines microenterprises in Jamaica as businesses that employ five persons or less and have an annual turnover not exceeding $10 million.

Small enterprises employ between six and 20 persons and have an annual turnover of between $10 million and $50 million, while medium-size enterprises employ between 21 and 50 persons and have an annual turnover of between $50 million and $150 million.

Sagicor did not specify limits on companies applying for its coupon plan but said Sagicor Fit, as the plans are called, offers six ‘pre-made’ health plans (in a coupon-type format) from which the employer can choose, the company said. This compares to standard health insurance plans which covers a full range of medical services.

Under the ‘standard’ plan, the employer ‘tailor-makes’ the overall benefit package offered to their employees by selecting what level of coverage they want to offer for each benefit (for example. doctor’s visits, prescriptions, diagnostics, dental and optical and hospitalization).

With coupon health, “this simplified approach allows businesses an opportunity to easily identity the benefits that they would want to offer to their employees and the associated cost,” the company said.

Sagicor said the solution significantly improves processing time, with application to delivery being under a week.

The company said the new approach to delivering health insurance has “the added benefit of offering protection against the impact of unpredictable claims cost, thus allowing the businesses to properly budget for this expense”.

Sagicor declined to share premium charges and coverage attached. It noted that employers have full discretion in determining how best to share the cost between themselves and their team.

Asked if it was possible to upsize plans selected , the company said Sagicor Life will provide Sagicor Fit clients with options available to them, which could include an upgrade or an option to realign their benefit to match their budget.

Sagicor Life declined to share its estimate of market size, but said its goal is to increase the number of persons covered by health insurance by approximately five per cent each year.

An insurance Association of Jamaica report in May 2018 indicated that Sagicor Life had 64 per cent of the group health market.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com