Working women’s sexual health needs attention: Plum’s study

● One in five women in India deal with PCOS, which is a leading cause of infertility

● Start-ups like Meesho and Darwinbox are offering IVF covers

Bengaluru, September 7, 2022: As per World Bank data, since the COVID-19 outbreak, female employment in India has dropped down by 9% in 2022. Of the multiple reasons, an alarming concern is stress among working women. As the stress of work increases, its impact on women’s sexual health goes remarkably high, with disorders like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, etc. leading to infertility among working women. This makes the need for structural change urgent.

As per the recent Union Budget statistics, women’s employability is at 51.44%. While corporates are adopting multiple measures to nurture and encourage female employment with an increase in maternity coverage, menstrual leaves, etc., employee health insurance platform Plum urges corporates to include In vitro fertilisation (IVF) coverage under their group health insurance policies.

Plum, a pioneer in driving ‘inclusion in insurance’, has released a report around, “The Reproductive and Sexual Health of Working Women”, urging companies to pay attention to unspoken aspects of women’s health. The reports states the following:

● 52% of women surveyed say they struggle to manage health with work

● 20%, or one in five women in India, have PCOS. It is a leading cause of infertility in women and accounts for 80% of ovulatory infertility cases.

● IVF treatment is expensive across the country and unfortunately not covered under corporates’ group insurance policy, further building stress and discomfort among women in the workforce.

Abhishek Poddar, CEO and Co- Founder, Plum says, “It has been our constant endeavour to drive ‘inclusion in insurance’ with maternity benefits, LGBTQ coverage, parental coverage, holistic healthcare consultations, etc. For the longest time, infertility did not come under the purview of insurance. This makes the need for structural change urgent. It is now time for women’s sexual health to receive the attention it deserves. As companies embark on this endeavour, it is important to remember that this change will require full commitment. At Plum, we have incorporated covers like infertility and surrogacy as well. ”

Nearly 2% of Plum’s clients, companies like Meesho, Darwinbox and Epifi, have already incorporated IVF coverage under their group policy. Renowned brands like Google and Flipkart too have incorporated IVF coverage into their health policies.

Kriti Rastogi, Director, Plum, says, “Today, an IVF treatment costs around Rs. 1.5 lakhs, laparoscopy around Rs. 75,000, and a hysterectomy costs anywhere from Rs 1.32 lakh to Rs. 2.75 lakh. However, most companies in India do not cover these treatments under their Group Health Insurance (GHIs). Companies should look at an ideal cover with no restrictions on any procedures, no exclusion of treatments. Under a comprehensive policy, no treatment, even if considered elective, will be rejected.”

Over the last year, Plum has been working on making insurance more inclusive. It is urging its insurance partners to redefine the insurance structure, besides counselling its clients to make their group health insurance policies more inclusive-with coverage for LGBTQ, no-capping on maternity benefits, parental coverage, holistic healthcare consultation, etc. Plum strongly advocates a higher benchmark for PCOS and infertility benefits in group health insurance. 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.

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