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Health Insurance-A host of New Products in Store for in 2016

... Business Standard:

Health insurance customers are in for a treat. Life, non-life and stand-alone health insurance providers will be bringing in a host of new products and services for customers. These would include riders for policies and new innovations in the health and wellness space.

“Insurance has largely been about savings and investments for several decades. However, we now see it shifting towards protection, both in term plans and health plans,” said Amitabh Chaudhry, managing director and CEO of HDFC Life. He added that part of it was driven by demographic change, an increase in the number of nuclear families, rising health care costs and access to technology.

Industry officials said that, unlike earlier times, when dying early was a concern, living too long has also become a matter of concern, given the rise in life expectancy and lifestyle diseases. Therefore, more products to suit this segment would also be launched in 2016.

Benefit-based products are also gaining relevance. M Ravichandran, president (insurance), TATA AIG General Insurance, said, “We have been working on a few benefit-based products under health and automobile (two-wheeler) in the next fiscal year.”

Private-sector insurers have seen decent rates of growth in the insurance sector. In life insurance, the industry saw growth of 17 per cent, backed by an almost 25 per cent growth in new premiums of private insurers. Similarly, the general insurance industry is also seeing a 12-14 per cent growth rate, which is expected to continue in 2016. Health insurance was a big area for both segments owing to new plans in the area of critical illness.

Pushan Mahapatra, managing director and CEO of SBI General Insurance, said that the industry was expected to be more sophisticated in its risk-modelling and product innovation in the coming years.

Health insurance was a space where life insurers offered mediclaim policies, while non-life and stand-alone health insurers offered specialised policies. But this trend underwent a change in 2015, when life insurers became aggressive.

Compared to the times when the share of health insurance in the market was considerably low, rising medical inflation at a rate double the average inflation and the rise in out-of-pocket expenses are expected to further build this business. K G Krishnamoorthy Rao, managing director and CEO, Future Generali India Insurance, said that the health insurance sector is slated to grow, considering major inflation in healthcare costs, which has made it almost impossible for a person to undergo any major medical treatment without support from an insurer.

Like the industry, the government is also working towards providing basic health care covers for citizens. The contours of a universal health scheme are being worked out. At present, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana offers basic health care cover to those below poverty line; this could be replaced by a larger scheme.

O N Singh, executive chairman, Universal Sompo General Insurance, said that health insurance is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent and is on a consistent rise.           

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