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Stress, smoking major health risks among working class

mumbai Updated: Dec 14, 2011 00:50 IST
Prachi Pinglay
Prachi Pinglay
Hindustan Times
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Stress and smoking-related disorders affect a majority of the working population, according to a study done with employees of 188 Indian companies.

The Employee Benefits Study, which analysed medical insurance claims of 188 companies across India, revealed that disorders of the digestive and respiratory systems attracted maximum compensation from insurers. The study was released on Tuesday.

“Stress causes digestive disorders such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome,” said Dr. Roy Patankar, surgical gastroenterologist.

“We see many patients from the information technology (IT) sector and the BPO industry. These ailments can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure and even strokes.”

The report analysed more than 75,000 medical claims over the past five years and was prepared by Marsh India, an insurance broker and risk advisor firm.

It said that the employers were curtailing medical insurance cover because of rising premiums and volatile markets.

“Reduction in benefits has resulted in consciousness among employees and careful use of the cover. They have started questioning and negotiating hospital charges,” Sanjay Datta, Sanjay Datta, head underwriting and claims, ICICI Lombard. “Parental cover is more difficult because their health care costs are higher because of age. Recession has also added to the curtailment.”

Some of the outcomes of curtailment were increased identification of health risks and focus on preventive health care. More than 60% employers identified stress as a major health risk and 56 % smoking or tobacco consumption as the next most health risk. Weight and nutrition-related ailments were other health risks.

Doctors said annual health check ups and health risk assessments were important among the age group of 30 to 50.

“Apart from diagnosis and medication, I strongly recommend healthy lifestyle changes such as meditation and breathing exercises,” said Dr Patankar.

The study said companies increased wellness programmes such as anti-smoking initiatives and weight management programmes to improve the health of their employees. However, the study also said that only 13% companies were conducting health risk analysis.