India has low health insurance penetration, says Shashank Chaphekar of Manipal Cigna Health Insurance

It’s certainly better to get health insurance earlier in life than to wait until a certain age, says Shashank Chaphekar, chief distribution officer, Manipal Cigna Health Insurance.

In an interview with MintGenie on World Health Day, Chaphekar said there is a lack of awareness and understanding among the general public that health insurance is a living benefit product.

Edited excerpts:

Q. Many people choose ₹10 lakhs as their standard health insurance coverage. What factors should you consider before deciding on the right sum insured?

Before deciding on the right level of health insurance coverage, choosing the right health insurance professional is just as important because they will take care of the living benefits of health insurance for you and your family for a lifetime. Therefore, when determining the appropriate level of health insurance, a number of factors must be considered.

First, it is important to consider the current and future health needs of the intended policyholders and their families. It is important to ensure that the coverage is sufficient to cover any potential medical expenses such as hospitalization and surgery, as well as any other OPD treatment that may be required.

Second, it is important to consider the cost of living in the area as well as the cost of medical care in the area. This is because the cost of medical care can often vary depending on the region and the type of medical care desired.

Finally, it is also important to consider any pre-existing medical conditions or additional insurance coverage that may be required for critical illnesses. Taking all these factors into account and the ever increasing medical inflation, one must have medical insurance of at least ₹10-20 lakhs to cover any form of treatment or hospital expenses for serious illnesses.

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Q. The punch line “Insurance Zaroori Hai” didn’t resonate with people as “Mutual Funds Sahi Hai”. What factors continue to hamper the growth of health insurance in India?

Health insurance in India has grown rapidly in recent years, but there are still many factors hampering its growth. One of the biggest factors is the lack of awareness and understanding among the general public that health insurance is a living benefit product. Many people are unaware of the services, benefits and coverage of health insurance and therefore do not see the value of purchasing health insurance.

Another important factor is the low penetration of health insurance in India. However, today we are seeing a change in people’s mindset, and health insurance is gradually moving from a ‘resentment’ purchase to a ‘nudge’ purchase. Insurance regulator IRDAI is also looking to increase insurance penetration, and with the mission “Insurance for All” by 2047, we can see the regulator taking initiatives to achieve this.

Therefore, in a relatively uninsured and underinsured market like ours, high self-spending, heightened awareness, rising healthcare costs, higher prevalence of lifestyle diseases and the government’s positive attitude towards healthcare will continue to accelerate the growth of healthcare insurance in the future.

Q. Many people only take out health insurance after a certain age, and mostly because of tax advantages. What are your views on this?

It’s certainly better to get health insurance earlier in life than to wait until a certain age, as it allows you to avoid the risk of pre-existing medical conditions that could make coverage more difficult or lead to higher premiums. In addition, health insurance can provide financial protection in the event of unexpected medical expenses, which can be especially important as you age and are at a higher risk of developing health problems.

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That being said, it’s understandable that many people may not prioritize health insurance until they reach a certain age or have other financial priorities. However, it’s important to note that the tax benefits of health insurance shouldn’t be the primary reason for purchasing it.

While tax deductions or exemptions can help reduce your tax burden, they shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when choosing a health insurance plan. By doing your research and choosing the right health insurance plan that meets your needs, you can also help ensure that you and your family have the financial protection you need in the event of unexpected health problems, no matter your age.

Q. Why do most private health insurance companies find it difficult to grow in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities?

For one thing, people in these cities still lack awareness of the importance and benefits of health insurance, which can lead to low demand for health insurance products.

Second, people in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities have lower income levels than people in Tier 1 cities. This can make health insurance products relatively expensive for them, reducing the affordability of those products.

Third, private health insurers may face challenges in building a robust distribution network in these cities. However, the transition to a more digital world allows insurers to reach near and far even in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

In the years to come, we firmly believe that the health insurance sector will endure with the increased penetration of health insurance in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and with the IRDAI initiatives “Bima Vahak” and “Bima Vistaar” to strengthen insurance distribution to grow in India’s rural population in the future. But insurers need to make health insurance much more sustainable for the entire ecosystem and more relevant to customers.

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Q. What should be considered for smooth claims settlement?

Before purchasing health insurance, it is important to make an honest statement about your medical condition so that there are no challenges in the application process. Knowing what is and isn’t covered under health insurance is also important to avoid future problems with reimbursements or non-cash claims.

In order to ensure smooth claims settlement, it is therefore important to ensure that all necessary documents and information are at hand, such as B. Medical reports, claims documents, policy numbers, contact information and a detailed description of the incident.

Having the insurance documents handy makes the process smoother and claims settlement faster. Therefore, following these tips can certainly help ensure the claim is settled in a timely and satisfactory manner, however the time it takes to settle a claim may vary from insurer to insurer.

Manipal Cigna has created a differentiated and digital first experience to provide real-time and personalized support to help our customers as quickly as possible. The digital changes we’ve made to our processes have one goal: to make claims processing smooth and hassle-free for our customers.

85% of respondents would consider cutting back on some luxury items in order to spend more on health insurance