News | 08.06.2011

Only one in four entrepreneurs has occupational health care coverage

Only 25 per cent of self-employed people are covered by occupational health-care services. According to a survey of Varma’s self-employed clients, 90% of self-employed people who work alone have no occupational health-care agreement. Some 2,500 entrepreneurs took part in the survey.

The survey revealed that occupational health-care service providers offer small business owners extensive and complete packages that do not correspond to their needs.

“Often the service offering begins with hospital care, which is far from the core of occupational health care,” says Mari Antti-Poika, Varma’s consultant physician.

Only two out of three self-employed people who act as employers take advantage of occupational health-care services. Employers are required to arrange statutory occupational health-care services for their employees, but such health care for the entrepreneurs themselves is voluntary.

Close to half of the survey respondents were aware that the Social Insurance Institution (Kela) provides compensation for half of the occupational health-care expenses.

According to many of the responses to the survey, the pre-arranged packages offered by occupational health-care service providers are too extensive, and too costly, for the needs of small business owners. Entrepreneurs instead opt for private sickness insurance, accident insurance or settle for the services of public health-care centres.

Occupational health-care services according to needs

Some entrepreneurs don’t think they need occupational health-care services.

“During my 20 years as an entrepreneur I haven’t had to see a doctor once.”

But some people had different experiences.

“At the public health-care centre, I was told to see an occupational health-care physician, so I didn’t get any treatment.”

Antti-Poika, an occupational health-care physician and specialist in occupational medicine, stresses that both lone entrepreneurs and employer-entrepreneurs should think about the kind of occupational health-care services they need and what is required by law.

“Other factors to consider are whether the company is in a high-risk industry, whether the employees are young or old, whether efforts should be made to improve the work atmosphere or if mental-health problems are a concern,” she lists.

Service providers familiar with small businesses

For small-scale entrepreneurs working in offices who take good care of their health, regular medical check-ups might be enough. According to Antti-Poika, occupational health-care service providers should engage in charting the needs of clients with a genuine desire to help.

“One solution could be service providers who have special expertise in the needs of small businesses, so that support through public funding could be provided – similar to the support provided to farmers,” says Antti-Poika.

More than 90 per cent of all Finnish companies have fewer than ten employees.

Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company is the largest earnings-related pension insurer and investor in Finland. The company is responsible for the statutory earnings-related pension cover of nearly 855,000 people. Premiums written totalled EUR 3.7 billion in 2010 and pension payments stood at EUR 4.0 billion. The company’s investment portfolio amounted to EUR 34.0 billion at the end of March 2011.

For more information, please contact:
Mari Antti-Poika, Consultant Physician, tel. +358 10 244 6708 or mobile +358 40 533 2509

For more information on the occupational health-care survey of entrepreneurs (in Finnish), visit Varma’s website www.varma.fi > Ajankohtaista > Yrittäjältä yrittäjälle