Workers in Nairobi say health cover is the best motivator


Nairobi-based employees value employer-funded medical cover schemes more than any other perks, a survey by global consulting firm Mercer has found. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Nairobi-based employees value employer-funded medical cover schemes more than any other perks, a survey by global consulting firm Mercer has found.

The Mercer study found that 89 percent of highly-skilled workers in Nairobi rank employer-subsidised health and wellness programmes as their best motivation to live and work in Kenya’s capital.

They employees ranked subsidised health insurance benefits above security, safety and lack of violence, which were cited by about 67 percent of workers who participated in the survey as top reasons to stay in or leave in their city.

“Employers believe workers prioritise money and other work-related factors when deciding whether to switch cities. But this isn't the case," the report titled People First: Driving Growth in Emerging Megacities, states.

"Most important to workers are the human and social factors essential to the quality of life. These include overall life satisfaction, security and safety, and proximity to family and friends. Although workers do rank total income third most important, it is the only money factor in the top five."

The findings of the study, released in Nairobi this month, are based on feedback from 7,200 workers drawn from 577 employers in 15 current and future megacities across seven countries in the world’s emerging economies.

Mercer said the research sought to examine the needs of employees in the world's fastest-growing cities across human, health, money and work factors. The study, the consultancy adds, also gives a critical insight into the motivations of workers against the backdrop of fierce competition for highly-skilled talent.

"Not only is it important for employers to promote the transformation by implementing measures that will make an impact and change the mindset, there is also a need to lead multi-stakeholder efforts to address pain points at scale," Deon de Swardt, the principal consultant at Mercer, said in a statement. Healthcare ranks among the costliest expenses for Kenyan workers.

A survey by the Ministry of Health in 2017, for example, found at least a million Kenyans were driven into poverty every year as a result of high medical expenses. Some sell land, houses, vehicles and other assets to settle hospital bills, according to the survey.

An attempt by legislators last December to review "exorbitant" professional fees charged by doctors through the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists’ Board as a starting point to reduce the cost of medical services has been opposed by the doctors.

A 2016 Gazette notice set the minimum consultation fee at Sh1,800, rising to Sh5,000 while house visits by a doctor costs from Sh3,600 to Sh5,000, charges which lawmakers want reduced.

Insurance companies earlier in the year threatened to raise premiums for medical policies if doctor’s fees are not reduced. "The sector is already bleeding from the high costs of healthcare. Given the small number of insured Kenyans, we might soon have to increase our rates," Jemimah Mbugua of Resolution Insurance said in January.