Friday, March 6, 2009

Health Insurance

Currently only 10 per cent of the Indian population has health insurance, which means that there is tremendous scope for growth in this area. The Indian health insurance business is growing at 50 per cent. The sector is projected to grow to US$ 5.75 billion by 2010, according to a study by the New Delhi-based PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry. According to a report by McKinsey on the Indian pharmaceutical and healthcare sector, one-fifth of India's population is likely to have medical insurance by 2015, leading to an estimated increase in consumer spending on healthcare from US$ 2,054 per household in 2005 to US$ 3,514 per household by 2015.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has eliminated tariffs on general insurance as of January 1, 2007. This move is expected to drive additional growth of private insurance products. Recently, public sector United India Insurance Company (UIIC) has launched two'Top Up' health insurance policies providing additional hospitalisation cover for individuals, available to individuals seeking medical insurance between US$ 10,204-US$ 30,612 .

While the'Top Up' policy covers in-patient hospitalisation expenses, pre and post hospitalisation expenses and ambulance,'Super Top Up' policy gives protection when the total hospitalisation expenses (of the individual) exceeds a particular level. In a recent move, general insurance companies are reportedly planning to develop standardised health insurance policies to help portability. Portability increases service standards as an unsatisfied customer can migrate to another service provider if there is no loss of benefit.

According to the action plan finalised by the General Insurance Council, the industry lobby for non-life insurers, the portable health cover will be available for a period of three years initially. Depending on the feedback in terms of claims ratio, the insurance companies will take a call on whether to extend the cover, a council member said. Also, the scheme will be open to only those in the age group of 18-40. Once the finer details are worked out, the general insurers intend to approach IRDA for approval to launch the product.

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