With World Hypertension Day coming up on 17th May, Dr Sudha Reddy, Head- Health and Travel, Digit Insurance analyses how the increasing disease burden due to hypertension will impact insurance premia, in an interaction with Viveka Roychowdhury
What is the global disease burden of hypertension? And what is India’s share of this disease burden?
As per the latest report of the World Health Organization (WHO) Hypertension is one of the silent killers of the 21st century and one of the rising global public health concerns. As per WHO report, globally more than 1.3 billion people are affected with hypertension among which less than 1 in each 5 is under control. Consumption of alcohol, no regular physical activities, unhealthy diets, etc are the main contributing factors of hypertension and now COVID-19 is a new addition to it.
As per the last data by the Global Burden of Disease GBD study of 2016, hypertension led to 1.63 million death in India in 2016 alone. It also showed that over half of the deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease (54.2 per cent), stroke (56.2 per cent) and chronic kidney disease (54.5 per cent) were attributable to high systolic BP. Additionally, the latest data from the National Health Profile released in 2018 states that in 2017 more people were detected with hypertension than diabetes in India. Of all the patients who visited government clinics, around 10 per cent were diagnosed with hypertension and around 8 per cent with diabetes. Even the latest data from the National Health Profile 2017 confirms the similar study and said that hypertension is a bigger concern than diabetes in India.
What are the main reasons why the India’s disease burden of hypertension is increasing?
Changing lifestyle and family history are two major reasons for hypertension. Late eating and excessive time being spent on smartphones by youngsters who seem to be living more in a virtual world instead of physical activities is another contribution to the disease. Additionally, the other factor that have led to an increase in the incidences of hypertension and related diseases especially in young adults are stress and anxiety-related issues.
How is the increased incidence of hypertension-related diseases reflected in health insurance claims history?
As hypertension is a pre-existing disease and has a waiting period of a minimum of 2 years, Digit has not seen any claims with hypertensive issues yet, as we also introduced our health insurance policy last year. However, we have witnessed that a lot of people are opting for our health policy having a past medical history of hypertension, particularly between the age group of 25-45 years. Previously this trend was more among the higher age groups i.e., 50 and above.
How much does a claim increase due to these disease conditions?
Usually, for hypertension-related diseases, the claim amount ranges between at least Rs 2-3 lakhs in case of a hospitalisation. Also, as having hypertension increases the probability of a heart disease, this can also increase the average claim size.
What is the quantum by which health insurance is becoming more costly due to these lifestyle illnesses?
With medical inflation increasing and early detection of lifestyle diseases, health insurance as a product have seen changes in how insurers’ structure it now as well as how it is priced. Especially for an individual with hypertensive issues, there can be a 15 to 20 per cent increase in the premium over the years.
Are there any age-brackets where the percentage of claims are more?
We do not have any data yet.
How can insurers sensitise customers and try to stimulate more healthy behaviours to reduce hypertension and therefore reduce claims over the long term?
Insurers offer rewards and incentives to stimulate healthy behaviour and reduce claims like a cumulative bonus that can increase in the sum insured on renewal without any increase in premium or a good discount on the next year’s premium in case of a claim free year.