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PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry organises conference on ‘Health Insurance 2042’

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The event also saw the release of a knowledge paper on ‘Health Insurance 2042’ that sheds light on the challenges and opportunities in the sector

The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday organised a conference on ‘Health Insurance 2042’ in Delhi where experts from the insurance companies and government officials deliberated upon the novel innovative ways to make the health insurance services better.

Speaking during the conference, Malti Jaiswal, Senior Consultant, World Bank, and Adviser, National Health Authority (NHA), stated that the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) plans to create a healthcare infrastructure that will bridge the existing gap among different stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem through digital highways. Touching upon the objectives of ABDM, she said that a health id for all Indian citizens-ABHA (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) will be created which would be helpful to maintain personal health records digitally, and is easy to access.

Emphasising on the distribution and affordability to get a large number of people insured, she said that it is impossible to reach out to people in smaller numbers; hence, a concept of the group should be brought in. It can be professional affinity, local affinity, staff affinity, etc. “We should insure them in large numbers, not small,” she mentioned.

The event also saw the release of a knowledge paper on ‘Health Insurance 2042’ that sheds light on the challenges and opportunities in the sector.

Pradeep Multani, President, PHDCCI, informed that the health insurance sector in India is expected to grow at a rate of 10.1 per cent between 2021 and 2027.

He said, “The Ayushman Bharat scheme has managed to cover the bottom 50 per cent of the population, and almost 20 per cent of the population is covered through various other voluntary schemes. The remaining 30 per cent or the missing middle is what the government must look at now.”

In addition to it, Dr Harsh Mahajan, Chair, Hospital and Diagnostics Committee, PHDCCI, and founder and Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, explained that the hospital sector accounts for 80 per cent of the total healthcare segment in the country.

“The hospital industry in India would touch $132 billion by 2023 from $62 billion in the year 2017 growing at a CAGR of nearly 16-17 per cent. Further, the digital healthcare market valued at $116 billion in the year 2018 is expected to touch $485 billion by the year 2024, a growth of 3.5 times. The spurt in growth is primarily due to the pandemic which accelerated the diagnostics sector to growth at a rate of 20.5 per cent. It is valued at $32 billion now from just $5billion in the year 2012,” he notified.

Shedding light on the need for a huge investment in medical education, SK Sethi, Co-Chair, BFSI Committee, PHDCCI, and founder and CEO, Insurance Foundation of India, stressed that India needs medical colleges, including allopathy and AYUSH to improve healthcare sector. “We need 1,500 allopathy colleges, 750 AYUSH colleges, 3,000 nursing colleges and 3,000 physiotherapy institutes to improve the state of healthcare in the country,” he said.

Furthermore, he informed that in the last five years, no new licence has been issued to any insurance company, while also mentioning the need for health insurance regulation. He cited the example of the US, where insurance regulator is at the state level, and the licence is also given to a company on that basis only. “In our country, it is compelled that a company has to function pan-India to get a licence,” he lamented.

Bhaskar Nerurkar, Head, Health Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, insisted on the need for some regulations for the hospital industry to control the costs of treatments since the line between hospitals and hospitality is blurring.

He said that when the pandemic was at peak, hospitals provided high-class treatments to some patients by not keeping them in general wards, but in the prince suites. “Installation of Air Conditioners (ACs) caused severe spread of COVID-19, and the hospitals had an advantage of getting paid for the sanitisation process via the insurance companies. However, condition, and not the financial status of patients must be observed while providing them treatment,” he insisted.

Nerukar also revealed that medical inflation jumped to 32 per cent during the pandemic.

Besides, in order to bring down the costs of treatments, Dr Sultan Kamruddin Badani, Deputy Head-Health and Accident Lines Business, Universal Sompo General Insurance, also proposed bringing down the premium costs for insurance, community screening and providing home healthcare.

“We should have the insurance for each and every Indian,” he shared his mission with the audience.

Dr Sameer Gupta, Co-Chair, Hospital and Diagnostics Committee, PHDCCI, also spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare sector and stressed on the need for insurance providers to go virtual.

“A lot of primary healthcare is going to be virtual in the next 10 years. Therefore, it is also important for insurance providers to understand and adapt to the change and offer services virtually,” he suggested.

In addition, he requested the insurance providers and the government to bring in the aspect of ‘prevention of a disease’ while providing a health insurance and framing health policies, respectively.

Other dignitaries present during the conference spoke about the use of technology in blockchain, issues and ways to deal with mental health, and the need to address the treatment gap, among others.

It is expected that the deliberations and discussions held among the health insurance sector stakeholders will bring up new innovative ways, so that the functioning of the sector becomes smooth and flawless by 2042.

 

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