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7 Health Insurance Industry Trends - 2013

Indian health insurance industry witnessed a remarkable growth in the year 2012. The growth is likely to continue at an even more rapid pace in 2013. Here's our pick of the top 7 trends expected to steer the direction of growth of health insurance sector in the year 2013.

1). New IRDA Regulations 

IRDA keeps issuing new regulations so as to keep the insurance industry focused on public interest rather than blindly making profits. The key regulations issued by IRDA for the year 2013 are going to be crucial and will lead to redesigning of the products, not only those being planned to offer in the future but also which are already being sold in the market. Some of the new regulations for the year 2013 are as follows.

  • The insurer will be liable to pay a minimum of 50% of the cost incurred on pre-insurance medical checkup
  • Lifelong renewability is going to be a mandatory feature in all health insurance policies
  • Customer information has to be summarized in one page so that to enable him to get through the key benefits and exclusions of a plan easily
  • NCB will no more go down to zero even after a claim. Earlier, the earnestly earned NCB would fall to zero even in case of a nominal claim.
  • The insured will no more be obliged to incur the loading charge for getting his policy renewed (even if he makes a claim in the policy term)

2). Online Sales Channel

Insurance was once perceived as the most mis-selling product, courtesy dishonest insurance agents. But with the advent of online platforms there has been a steep decrease in the selling of insurance policies through agents, followed by busting of that perception. In 2013, agents are going to lose a bit more ground to the online comparison portals, which not only saves time, money and effort of the customer but also makes the whole insurance buying thing more transparent than ever.

3). Adoption of Global Strategies 

With all those foreign joint ventures and collaborations, Indian insurance industry is likely to keep inculcating global expertise and international strategies leading to an overall increase in efficiency and effectivity of the whole insurance sector. The claim process is likely to become faster and more streamlined and the document submission is expected to go online.

4). Increased Penetrability

The healthcare industry in India is growing fast. The third largest fraction of workforce in India works for healthcare industry. There has been a continuous rise in number of participating medical and paramedical professionals in the healthcare network, making health insurance more penetrable at ground levels. This is further bolstered by govt. driven awareness programs at rural levels, rising healthcare costs, more awareness among people for health insurance and better healthcare infrastructure. It's a two way process, the overall improvement in the health insurance sector is increasing insurance penetrability and increased penetrability in turn is inspiring further improvement.

5). Integrated Approach 

Insurance sector is driven by various forces, competitors, work force, regulating authority, customers, and healthcare network and professionals. At present, overall health insurance domain is going through a rapid transition. The key players are adopting a 360 degree approach to maximize customer acquisition. Not only they are constantly expanding their web of network hospitals, clinics and specialty care centres, but also offering value added services on their plans such as maternity coverage, day care expenses, lifelong renewability, 24x7 doctor helpline and regular health check ups. Other insurers have gone a step further and tried to offer products that integrate the features of both preventive health care plan and health insurance.

6). Specialized Insurance

As of yet, health insurance has worked quite well for the general population. But when it comes to serving people with a pre-existing condition, no insurer in India (with the possible exception of Star Health) has come forward and taken the responsibility to serve the niche. This is better known from the fact that health insurance cover for HIV patients, cancer patients and diabetic patients are so few that they can be counted on fingers. Even old aged are either plainly denied a coverage or end up paying high premiums for getting a decent cover. Hopefully, with the intervention of IRDA, the things are going to improve for such people this year.

7). Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs

As a legal obligation, employers are supposed to give cover to their employees under a group health insurance plan. But as the health care costs continue to rise drastically, the corporations are rethinking on how to save the money. One way most of them have come up, is to penalize unhealthy individuals like smokers and alcoholics and rewarding those who participate in healthy habits like joining a fitness club and taking up regular exercises. In a literal sense, companies are increasingly getting involved in organizing wellness programs and inspiring employees to adopt healthy lifestyle.

Health insurance in India is poised to achieve its best in the year 2013 in terms of revenue as well as penetrability. The factors mentioned above will be significant in a good way bringing about the expected growth.