1 and a half Billion

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8 days ago, I blogged my thoughts about the new Insurance Training Levy, which will, no doubt, be passed down to you and me, Daily Monitor, has made a suggestion of the figures in this article.


Ridiculous Tax Coming

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So I hope you had a great day today. I also had a bad day, after learning that all my insurance policies are going to incur an extra 0.5% for the flimsy excuse that the Insurance Regulatory Authority needs money to carry out training for the masses. This is the verbatim, released September 10th 2012:

The Insurance Amendment Act 2011 provides for an Insurance Training Levy (ITL) that shall be imposed on the Gross Direct Premium charged for all policies issued by Insurance companies. In consultation with the Minister of Finance, the rate of the Levy has been set at 0.5%.

The levy, which is effective 1st October 2012, shall be charged on all new policies issued, renewals and endorsements, for as long as these attract an additional premium. 

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Is your Medical Insurance a Benefit?

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Following a few changes within the structure and administration of my current Health Insurance Provider, i have had to ponder over the issue of medical benefits that companies afford to employees.

The golden question remains – Is your medical insurance a benefit? Is it? Really?

In a typical african setting, who really came up with the concept of 4 Biological Children? Aren’t these the same health providers whose premises are littered with Family Planning messages? So who is fooling who, when you claim to offer me medical cover for 4 biological children, and at the same time discourage me from having many children – because “its not wise”…

Which is important, that the medical cover is for 3 vitally important people of my family or 4 Biological children – half of them usually presumed? Even when i get them, all 4 of them, it will take me, atleast 8 years, if i follow the advise pinned all-over the hospital walls. In 6 or 4 of those 8 years, shouldn’t my medical benefits go to my ailing mother, or my bed-ridden brother?

Which is it that you are really giving – or that of which I am really a beneficiary? If its medical cover, for me and my immediate family, since when did you want to count my immediate family – in a country where the average mother gives birth to 7, 4 is not a bad count. But now you go ahead and want to list them? Seriously? Isnt the numbers restriction enough for you to have control on who benefits from this benovelent gift of yours? Do you really have to specify who?

So I am married, with 2 children, and i will adopt 2 more when the time comes. From a numbers perspective, every such employee who has a footprint of 5 extra persons, i believe is a large strain on the resources of any medical insurance. Certainly Joe who is single and desperately suicidal only accesses the medical insurance fund once in a forlon blue moon. Such a Joe is a better employee in the numbers game. Infact, assuming Joe got married and had one child, if we would really like to save money – we might encourage Joe to consider a Vasectomy. Bang. Sealed. No further “costs” for Joe and family.

And Jane? Well lets just keep her till she gets married, but until then, she leaves a more palatable footprint.

If you really want to cut on costs, then reduce the foot print. Pure and Simple. But if you really want to give a benefit, then tis enough to say how many you are willing to sponsor, and that’s all that really matters!!! Now that’s a benefit.

Wait, would you like me to contribute to such a benefit? Certainly, one good turn deserves another! As much as it would be great if you gave wholly, I can understand, and even accomodate it that you need me to contribute. So i will make a contribution, a whole hearted one. I will support you, as you support many of us. Afterall, this is a benefit, and God blesses us, so that we can be a blessing to other people. 

So is it ok, for me to know the monetary value of my medical benefits? This is an ethically grey area. If you dont want me to know, its perhaps because you are giving the benefit – in kind – but if you are indeed dishing out cash on a monthly basis, it would be great for you to share this. Perhaps the medical bill generated by employee x this month is a result of a problem that we can help with back at home – food and substance contamination.

I know, it seems intrusive to suggest that your boss might send the janitor over to help you clean up, but here’s what i’d say – where is the “charity begins at home” in “corporate social responsibility”? Does it make sense for you to continue to pay an abnormally high bill for the same employee and yet he sits perched, and somehow considers it none of our business why tis always his kids and family with malaria? What if all you need is some Doom and Mosquito nets? Or perhaps, a work-mate knows about a free house that’s not in that mosquito infested swamp you call a neighbourhood?

So if we agree, that to an extent, i need to know what my own benefit equates to – annually – and to get a report on the usage thereof, then perhaps we have to be prepared to answer Joe when he demands to know what is going to happen to the “benefit” accorded to him, but has not been used up by December 20th…

…yes, it makes for more responsible usage, as well as more accountable employers/managers. Unless your benefit is managed by a health provider, who offers it at pre-paid non-refundable T&Cs, then surely, you should be able to walk up to accounts to get a report on your medicals for the quarter, half year. And naturally, you have to have a policy on unused medical. 

Ofcourse, am assuming that since its a benefit (loosely = a gift) that you have no plans to retain it. Unless ofcourse you are… (incase my boss reads this, i have to leave that hanging). Why would you want to retain it? You budgeted it, and therefore, unless you can justify significant unbudgeted expenditures for which unused cash can help out with, there is no sound reason to retain it.

Maybe there is… Lets see, cash for a company is good – can cover emergencies and currency fluctuations. Also, it can be used to boost budgets for the next financial period. It can be used as a top up for the same employee’s benefit, so next year they would access even better services. Can be used as a contribution to staff gratuity – without the company having to set aside another budget line. What else could we use that money for? Bonus!!! End of Year bonuses. Now thats not a bad one.

An educated guess, is most people would choose to get their un-used medical benefits as some kind of cash bonus at the end of the year. Because, cash is also good for the hard worker. Afterall, i wouldn’t be anywhere near this benefit if i wasnt working hard enough.

Personally, the most important thing is life. And as an employee, i am equally as disturbed and affected if the life threatened is one of my wife, my mother, my brother, or my house-help, afterall, she looks after the daughters my benefit is trying to cover. If my children’s nanny can’t access medical cover for fungus, my children are certainly going to be in hospital for something fungal. Prevention used to be better than cure, so until those “4 Biological Children” are  gotten, the one looking after the 2 is an important part of my immediate family – and i insist.

So, its time to ask that question again, Is your Medical Insurance a Benefit?