The role of brokers in bridging the accessibility gap in healthcare.


An end-to-end healthcare offering is becoming a business and broker 

In today's competitive business landscape, maintaining a productive and healthy workforce is crucial for long-term success. Yet in South Africa, 2.25 million members of the workforce are on sick leave today. Let that sink in. That is 15% of the country’s workforce who are not at work. To put that in perspective, average global absenteeism is 3.75 days per working year with South African numbers being more than triple at between 8 to 15 days per working year. The impact of lost productivity on the bottom line of business across the board is staggering. Close to 85% of the population do not have access to private healthcare, leaving more than 50+ million South Africans to rely on State healthcare resources. Without access to quality primary healthcare early in the health cycle, our workforce will continue to fall behind.

This pattern is set to perpetuate because lack of access to quality healthcare has a significant knock-on impact as people are left with little choice but to travel far distances to clinics and stand in long queues to receive often unaffordable healthcare. To do this requires an entire day off work while also resulting in a higher disease burden that costs upward of 4.2% of the country’s GDP. If there is a hope of South Africa achieving sustainable economic growth, quality primary healthcare must be made more accessible and affordable for all. This begins with businesses investing in comprehensive healthcare benefits, promoting preventative care programmes, and educating their workforce about the importance of maintaining good health.


Healthcare disparities in employee benefits

Traditionally, employee benefit programs have primarily catered to upper-income employees. These programmes typically include comprehensive health insurance plans, wellness perks, and various other benefits that are out of reach for lower-income workers. This disparity in benefits not only affects the overall well-being of the workforce but also contributes to income inequality and employee turnover. One of the core issues is the limited options available for lower-income employees. They often have to settle for basic health insurance plans with high deductibles and limited coverage. This can result in financial strain, reduced access to medical services, and increased stress. Such disparities in access to healthcare can lead to a less motivated, less healthy, and less productive workforce.

Digitally driven healthcare services

The opportunity to forever change the way the vast majority of the population access healthcare and take control of their health and wellness journey is being driven by digital innovation. An explosion in mobile technology is connecting smart phone users to an array of digital services, including healthcare platforms. A prime platform for healthcare technologies to showcase their innovation, application and integration into the existing healthcare infrastructure is now available.

In a South African context, where people have had to rely on ineffective systems for so long, advancements such as these are a game-changer set to become very much part of the future of healthcare. Experiences can now be tailored to the individual with palm-of-the-hand access that is always available, affordable, and most importantly quality driven, offering care when it is most crucial in the fight to combat NCDs – early in the health cycle.

Unu Health is one such technology platform that connects people to the healthcare they need to live healthier and more balanced lives. Users are empowered with access, information and expertise so that they can confidently take control of their own health and wellbeing.


The critical role of the broker in bridging the accessibility gap

Any employee benefit broker who has consulted to a company has probably had to exclude a large portion of employees because typically there is a gap for those earning less than R30 000 as they cannot afford private medical schemes. Now that the technology exists, brokers and Intermediaries play a pivotal role in bridging the gap within the healthcare ecosystem. Not only is there a need, but there is also an opportunity for brokers and Intermediaries to become part of the solution to unlock access to equitable healthcare solutions for a sustainable economy – and a holistically healthier workforce.

For the first time in the healthcare landscape, an opportunity exists for brokers to offer their clients a complete end-to-end solution via the Unu Health app. Cutting edge technology does not exclude a single member of the client’s workforce – no matter what their income. The value add and client relationship building opportunities are undeniable as brokers now have the ability to offer a corporate solution that addresses business risk and employee wellbeing.

Currently there is no other platform that offers brokers this type of end-to-end employee healthcare solution. Clients are asking for it, Unu health’s technology platform is delivering it, so there is no reason why brokers should not be including it in their offering.