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How Digital Technologies Are Reshaping the Health Insurance Sector to Empower Consumers

The combination of affordable smartphones and accessible internet has helped Indian consumers to access the digital marketplace.

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Two observations frequently pop-up while discussing India’s population and economics – the population is growing and the urban youth has disposable income. When we look at these observations from a health insurance lens, it is noticeable that India has a vast uninsured population and there is a challenge of awareness and availability when it comes to health insurance products. Also, the tech-savvy youth want a health insurance model that is customized and convenient, much like the online retail segment. 

India spends a lot in terms of ‘out of pocket’ expenses for treating medical issues. This depletes the savings and can expose the patient and the family to a financial crisis. There are Government schemes that offer health insurance but they aren’t enough. This is where health insurance, powered by digital, comes up as a solution to widen, strengthen, and smoothen the industry. 

The combination of affordable smartphones and accessible internet has helped Indian consumers to access the digital marketplace. Although general insurance companies have been a bit lethargic in being a part of the digital revolution, they are catching up and in some cases paving the way with the help of Insurtech. 

Digital Health Insurance Initiatives 

Now, the focus is not just on offering ‘comprehensive’ health plans, it is also on the following initiatives. Some are already in place in India while some are functional elsewhere but are a strong source of inspiration for Indian insurers. 

Guiding Users And Creating Awareness 

Health insurance is more complicated than other general insurance offerings. Thus, potential policyholders might need hand-holding. Therefore, digitally-driven insurers are building mobile apps and a customer-friendly website that guides users during the entire health insurance journey. This will ultimately lead to improved customer experience. 

Health insurance providers are utilizing chatbots and voice assistants to create awareness about the features and benefits of their offerings. Queries are resolved and jargon is simplified instantly. Thus, there are no location or time-related boundaries for clarification of doubts. Not just that, chatbots and voice assistants can help regarding healthcare activities like assisting an elderly person by reminding to take medicines in a timely manner. 

Befriending Technology 

Insurers and Third-party Administrators (TPA) can track health-related information with the help of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices used by policyholders. Such kind of regular monitoring can prove beneficial in terms of taking timely health decisions. For example, preventive measures can be taken if the health parameters are found to be problematic. Meaningful engagement can be leveraged to find high-risk individuals who can then be targeted for preventive care offerings. 

Insurers are offering discounts on premiums for following a healthy lifestyle such as being regular at gyms, walking a certain distance, etc. in order to promote wellness. Thus, policyholders are benefitted from choosing a healthy way of life. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Image Recognition can determine the probability of a policyholder contracting an illness, enabling Predictive Diagnosis. Correct treatment can be suggested based on data analysis. 

Health insurance and healthcare products and services can be made available in rural areas thanks to telemedicine. People in remote areas will be able to get access to better healthcare services and that too in a convenient manner. Telemedicine can also be helpful in minimizing in-patient visits and overall healthcare expenses. 

Ensuring hassle-free Processes 

Health insurers are looking at mobile phones as a distribution channel and offering core as well as value-added services via that platform. Policyholders can not only pay premiums and settle claims via their mobile but also schedule appointments and get information about health concerns thanks to tie-ups between insurance companies and healthcare service providers. 

Health insurers can settle claims efficiently and quickly with the help of digital technologies such as AI, Non-standardization, manual intervention, and record-keeping mistakes can be reduced drastically with the help of technology, for example - Blockchain. This will ultimately speed-up the claim settlement process and help the policyholders when it matters the most. 

Empowering Indian Customers 

The health industry is empowering policyholders by helping them make informed decisions. By venturing into digital partnerships with like-minded companies, insurers are creating an ecosystem where the customers’ problems are addressed and resolved promptly. Technology is not at the periphery; it is ingrained in the strategy. Traditional health insurance set-ups are revolutionized and modern ones are built with a focus on serving customers in a better manner. 

There is competition but a healthy one. All this is bound to empower customers even further and help them to create a strong health insurance portfolio. Potential policyholders must look at this change as a welcoming one and embrace health insurance. It will secure their finances in the time of need. The savings will remain intact and money stored as an emergency fund can be invested elsewhere for better returns. Spending a minor amount as a health insurance premium on an annual basis is beneficial than paying hospital bills that might drain savings. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Biresh Giri

The author is Actuary, Head of Product Development & CRO, at Acko

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