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BW Businessworld

We Are Inclined Towards Building An Effective Digital Ecosystem: Mayank Bathwal, Aditya Birla Health Insurance Company

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Mayank Bathwal, CEO - Aditya Birla Health Insurance Company Limited, speaks about health insurance market and its expansion strategy

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When we look at the market for Health Insurance plans, one very clear insight that emerges is the lack of differentiation on the basis of features…. Nearly all insurers seem to have more or less similar plans. How do you go about differentiating your proposition?
Are you aiming to target any specific niche segment within the market, or is your customer acquisition strategy broad? Where do you think the key pockets of business opportunity exist?  

Aditya Birla Health Insurance Co. Limited (ABHICL) has entered the health insurance market with an aim to expand the category to wider customer segments, beyond the ones that health insurance companies traditionally have marketed to. And through a full range of offerings by providing "Health Insurance for All".

This includes
"    A Comprehensive Incentivized Wellness Program that will attract the young and health conscious and will motivate, guide and reward them to stay healthy
"    A Chronic Care Management Program to cater to the unmet needs of a growing Indian population of those suffering from chronic lifestyle conditions like Diabetes, Asthma, High Cholesterol and Hypertension from Day 1

ABHICL serves as an enabler and influencer of health and healthcare choices that customers make, in addition to being a payer of healthcare expenses. Thus, ABHICL would act like a much needed catalyst to grow the prevalent health insurance landscape in India through product innovations and a wider choice of consumer relevant products.

We have invested considerable time and effort to understand existing correlations between good health and individual health choices. Our product philosophy aims to combine understanding of this science with an assessment of unaddressed needs of large customer segments, which presently remain unfulfilled.

This proposition can be summed up in 4 simple points -
1.    Rewarding healthy behaviour with incentives that make efforts worthwhile
2.    Safeguarding health by guiding customers to manage chronic lifestyle conditions better
3.    Protecting health needs with dignity  
4.    Providing easy access to a holistic health and wellness ecosystem in a personalized, efficient and cost-effective manner through digitized processes  

What's your take on the 'porting paradox' that exists, wherein underwriters are unwilling to take inward-port policies that have had a claim in the past - and customers who have not made a claim are unwilling to port. Do you see Health insurance porting stalling before it takes off?

Portability guidelines were introduced by the IRDAI to protect the interest of the Insured when they transfer their existing health insurance policy to a new health insurance provider and this framework has been welcomed by the Industry.

In our experience customers do not port their policies only as a result of claims not been settled to satisfaction but also can be due to reasons such as service issues or better offering by other insurers. The insurers largely, also given the spirit of regulatory guidelines, do not differentially underwrite lives if they are coming as porting requests or a fresh proposal, the lives underwritten are accepted as per the objective criteria of their underwriting policies. We do not see porting stalling anyways, essentially to our understanding is a strength to the consumer and contributes a good share in insurer's top lines.

There appears to be a conflict of interest between Hospitals and Health Insurers. What steps do you think the industry needs to take in order to address this issue?
According to me both Hospitals & Health Insurers complement each other. As they work towards same objective of caring and assisting customer's improve their health.

However, in the absence of a health regulator there are few situations where the common objective seems to be conflicting due to multiple reasons like open ended health care tariffs, lack of transparency and no agreement on standard treatment protocols.

Fortunately, there is work happening in all these areas, however a lot need to be done. Agreement on standard packages and integration between insurer and hospital systems are the steps in same direction.

You recently entered into a bancassurance agreement with Karur Vysya Bank. Is there any specific rationale behind your choice of partner? Are you looking at more partnerships in the near future?
We are delighted to have Karur Vysya Bank, one of the most trusted brands in the banking sector as our bancassurance partners. Owing to the huge opportunity and low penetration in the health insurance segment, we believe through this strategic tie-up and our robust product offering we shall be able to cover wide range of the customers at Karur Vysya Bank.

With 790 branches spread across India, this partnership will help us in strengthening our distribution reach.  Leveraging KVB's physical and digital assets to create deeper penetration, we would be able to provide affordable insurance products customized to the requirements of its clientele even in small centres. This collaboration will ultimately enable us to provide relevant health protection solutions to the customers of the bank and positively take care of their needs and grievances.

Do you see tech as a differentiator in the Indian Health Insurance space - in areas such as data management, claims management, underwriting and the like? What tech initiative are you incubating at Aditya Birla Health?
In India, the Insurance sector, once considered a laggard in technology adoption, is today shedding this image by adopting disruptive emerging technologies across various lines of operations. Over the last few years, considerable investments have been made by the industry on IT tools such as Big Data, analytics, and chatbots to address a gamut of business challenges that include combating fraudulent claims, designing personalized policies, improving insurance persistency, enhancing customer experience and so on.

There is a bouquet full of front end & back end technologies, which support our systems. Artificial Intelligence, Middleware, Mobility support and reporting MIS technologies support the health insurance environment.

At ABHICL, we have always been inclined towards building an effective digital ecosystem for the key stakeholders in the health insurance segment. We have been leveraging several technology solutions such as mobile apps, cloud computing, wearable devices and data integration with other healthcare entities to create an edge by providing seamless experience to our stakeholders. These technologies have empowered us right from identifying the customers to on-boarding and offering need based health protection solutions.