Health insurance continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) industry, says the latest update from the General Insurance Council. The segment is growing at 21 per cent, more than double the rate of India's GDP. In 2015-16, the health insurance segment witnessed a growth much better than other segments such as motor, fire and engineering.
Today, health insurance is vital. With more Indian households adopting modern lifestyles in polluted cities, susceptibility to risks has seen a sharp rise. Some of these risks can lead people to drill gaping holes in their life-long savings, on exorbitant hospital bills. Especially people who never saw the need to invest in a personal health cover and wholly depended on the one provided by their employers. In some cases, these people do have a health insurance policy, but the policy may not be appropriate to their personal requirements.
Research shows that as consumers face more choices, complexity, and financial exposure when it comes to availing health care services, they fervently seek simplification and peace of mind. In a life where they struggle with selecting the perfect fit for everything, they simply look for a health insurance policy that is customised to suit their elaborate lifestyles while covering regular ailments. To cater to the demands of these new-age health-conscious people, who do not wait too long before opting for a health insurance policy, the insurance industry came up with the concept of ‘wellness insurance’. This product, which was earlier popular among large corporates, has now picked up among individual policy holders as well.
In the past few years, urban India has witnessed a proliferation in mental and physical ailments, owing to hectic lifestyles. To make up for this evident unbalance between work and leisure, they end up paying a fortune for fancy health equipment such as Fitbit and joining gym, and yoga or zumba classes. Some also resort to drastic diets, leading to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
To cater to the new and evolving needs of the customers, many insurers provide for wellness as well—such as discounts on gym memberships, health check-ups, vaccinations, yoga sessions, online chats with doctors and even second opinions from consultants. Then there are diet and nutrition counselling sessions, smoking cessation programmes and first-aid training, which are additional options available to policy holders. In fact, these insurance products also help policy holders fight conditions like diabetes and hypertension. As a part of the policy, the insurer assigns a mentor to policy holders suffering from such chronic conditions. They are provided with a meal and lifestyle activity plan, based on the health goals they wish to achieve. Their progress is monitored by a health coach. These facilities provided to the policy holders not only enhance their wellness, but also prove to be more cost effective than taking up these activities without a wellness add-on to their existing health insurance policies. Such comprehensive policies contribute towards a lifestyle transformation at affordable rates.
The need of the hour, from an insurance stand point, is to provide a cover that offers a comprehensive wellness programme that addresses new-age needs.
Ravichandran is president (insurance), Tata AIG General Insurance.