The Hindu Business Line
IRDAI to health insurers: Make products more consumer-centric
Pricing has made health insurance unaffordable to many: IRDAI chief
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India will recommend to the government that statutory changes be brought in to allow health insurance providers to offer value-added services, IRDAI Chairman Debasish Panda said on Tuesday.
Nudging health insurance providers to overhaul their products, pricing and distribution strategies so as to be more consumer-centric, Panda wanted the industry to prepare a roadmap that will help reinforce policyholders’ trust in health cover. The roadmap should focus on the three mantras of “awareness, accessibility and affordability”, he said.
Noting that the pricing of health insurance products is “probably very high”, Panda told CII’s 16th Health Insurance Summit that the high pricing is leaving health insurance to be “unaffordable” for many sections. Panda, however, did acknowledge that the high pricing could be due to high operational expenses,
high distribution costs and also expenses of hospitals.
“We need to work on how we optimise costs — hospital care, distribution costs or operating expenses of a company. With technology and data around, how do we optimise the cost and come up with solutions? Can we also look at more comprehensive health insurance solutions?” he said.
Value added services
Panda wanted the industry to work with healthcare providers to design products that would cover exclusions and pre-existing illness. “We should think of providing more cover for them,” he said.
Panda said the industry has been asking for approval to offer value-added products and that IRDAI is open to them. “We are making recommendations to the government to bring in necessary changes in statute and allow value-added services. We need to have a platform where we can manage entire healthcare — including yoga training, gym membership, etc.,” he said.
Go for growth
Panda said the health insurance market — which grew at a CAGR of 19 per cent in the last five years — needs to grow at 35-40 per cent if the country has to enhance health insurance density. In terms of premium, it has grown from ₹20,000 crore per annum in 2014-15 to ₹73,000 crore in 2021-22.