InsurTech aims at raising awareness about male infertility on Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day (February 12)
10th February 2023, Bengaluru: Plum, an employee health insurance platform, says that less than 1% of corporates in India offer infertility coverage under Group Health Insurance. Among Plum’s clients, approximately 2% have already incorporated IVF covers under their group policy. Renowned companies such as Google and Flipkart have IVF covers in their corporate health policies.
On Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day, Plum roots for more inclusive Group Health Insurance policies, with adequate infertility treatment covers. According to World Health Organization’s estimate, the overall prevalence of primary infertility in India is between 3.9 to 16.8%. Doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have reported that over 12–18 million couples in India are diagnosed with infertility every year.
Infertility cases (among men and women) are on the rise and so is the cost of treatments. For example, the cost of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and In vitro fertilization (IVF) (two common treatments for infertility), ranges between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakh with no guarantee of success. This means, a couple might have to undertake these treatments more than once, which can be both expensive and mentally draining.
Here is how Group Health Insurance can play a role:
Insurers have now begun offering cover for such treatments when specifically requested i.e. it is available albeit not always.
It is important to ensure that the coverage is broad enough to include all relevant Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ARTs) for men and women and that it covers not just in-patient treatments but also out-patient treatments.
Contrary to popular belief, infertility and sterility treatments are not covered under “Maternity” cover, which typically covers only the delivery of a new-born baby.
Plum further aims to raise awareness on a related topic of social importance i.e., male infertility. Discussions around sexual wellness and reproductive health issues continue to be avoided, especially when it comes to male infertility that has been on the rise in recent years. According to a recent report, on ‘trends on male factor infertility’ approximately 50% infertility cases are due to the ‘male factor’, owing to the reproductive anomalies in the male.
Dr. (Brigadier) Sukesh Kathpalia, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, part of the Senior team of specialists at Plum Telehealth said, “The discussion and awareness around infertility remains a taboo. In India, infertility is often perceived as a woman’s issue as she bears the child. However, that mindset must change. Male infertility is on the rise and it has become a key reason for many couples being unable to conceive especially between the age group of 29 to 35 years. Due to social stigma, male fertility problems are overlooked and most often go undiagnosed and untreated.”
There are a number of factors responsible for the dip in male fertility. Smoking, alcohol, unhealthy lifestyle have unfavourable effects on male semen parameters. It is important that the subject of male infertility should be taken up more seriously in our society. Proper clinical consultation, thorough investigation followed by effective stepwise treatment can help resolve the condition in many cases.
Over the last year, Plum has been working on making insurance more inclusive. It is working with insurance partners to introduce new-age covers on the one hand and counselling its clients to make their group health insurance policies more inclusive (with coverage for LGBTQ, higher maternity benefits, parental coverage, holistic healthcare consultations) on the other. Plum strongly advocates inclusion of infertility treatments in group health insurance coverage. The company also aims to accelerate the pace of health insurance adoption in India and encourage all businesses to think about their employees’ health first.