Health insurance products get bigger, better
04 Aug, 2014 03:03 PM
A health insurance policy with Rs 1 crore sum assured, worldwide medical coverage and coverage for all age groups, increase in sum assured and reduction of waiting period for pre-existing diseases. This is not a futuristic insurance product that will be made available in India. These are some of the features that are now being made available by general insurance companies.

Max Bupa, for instance, has introduced the new edition of its flagship product Heartbeat Health Insurance Plan, offering individuals, nuclear and extended families the most comprehensive health insurance plan. The plan offers international cashless treatment for nine major critical illnesses, worldwide emergency medical evacuation, flexibility in sum assured ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 1 crore.

This product also offers a reduced waiting period of 24 months on pre-existing diseases for sum insured of Rs 5 lakh and above and has the option of tapering co-pay, that provides customers above 60 years a comprehensive coverage, with reducing and subsequently zero co-payment on continuous renewal.

Manasije Mishra, CEO, Max Bupa, said the company's research indicates that customers everywhere are looking for best quality healthcare for their families.

He added there has been no change in our pricing over the last four years, despite increase in inflation and medical costs. "In the new edition of Heartbeat, there is a nominal increase in premium across variants due to enhancements in the product," he said.

Cigna TTK Health Insurance, which is the latest entrant in the standalone health insurance space offers "worldwide emergency cover" as a part of its first product ProHealth for each of its categories. A policy holder can get her expenses reimbursed, which would have taken place for a medical emergency during an overseas trip. The policy holder would need to claim and submit the bills in India, the claim amount being paid would be in Indian rupee.

ProHealth Premier plan offers sum insured of Rs 1 crore with reduced waiting period of two years. The expenses arising from critical illness are covered under this plan, hence omitting the need for a separate critical illness plan.

Industry experts said that with rise in medical inflation that stands at 15-20 per cent, the health expenses have also gone up, creating a further need for health insurance. "An increase of premium of atleast 10 per cent and up to 20 per cent is anticipated, since newer features coupled with inflation have increase product costs," said the underwriting head at a mid-size private general insurance firm.

Other non-life companies are also gearing up to launch products to cater to the changing needs of the market.

M Ravichandran of Tata AIG General Insurance, said, "Being a late entrant into the health insurance space, we are in the process of augmenting our product range and as part of this high value covers and international coverages are also on the anvil." Prudence would be exercised with respect to pricing of health products, he added.

Overseas policies that require additional sum assured are not covered in an ordinary health insurance policy. Hence, insurers are offering specialised policies for these needs. Renuka Kanvinde, assistant vice-president, Health Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance said their Health Care Supreme insurance plan covers sum insured up to Rs 50 lakh on individual and floater basis, for treatments in India.

While most of these features, especially international medical coverage, are availed by premium customers, industry officials said this would soon see traction among middle-income segment as well, with number of international trips by middle class families also on the rise.

Rakesh Jain, CEO, Reliance General, said while India does have some of the best medical facilities, there are still certain surgeries/ailments, which require interventions, facilities or medical expertise that are available in select foreign hospitals.

"While globally there are international health covers available, which cover worldwide treatment, it has still not caught up in India as the customer base is limited. We are evaluating the introduction of an international health cover, but a lot will depend upon the potential market size given the significantly high premiums and associated conditions," he said.
Source : Business Standard

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