95% of middle-class Indians do not have enough health insurance

“An increased appreciation of rapidly rising healthcare treatment costs does not seem to have translated into Indian consumers being better prepared. This is either because we, as consumers believe that we are a genetically healthy bunch or are unaware of just how expensive medical procedures have become,” says Manish Shah, co-founder and CEO of BigDecisions.

Nov 24, 2015 02:11 IST India Infoline News Service

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Around 95% of middle-class Indians do not have enough health insurance to cover some of the most common procedures and ailments in the country, according to a report by BigDecisions.com, one of India’s leading personal finance advice platforms.
Surprisingly, consumers above 45 who are at higher risk of health problems and closer to retirement, are least prepared for emergencies as they are under-insured by an average of 69%, reveals the report.
The BigDecisions study is based on data obtained from 10,000 consumers across eight major cities, aged 25 to 45+ and in the income bracket ranging from Rs 6 to 36 lakh annually. 
“An increased appreciation of rapidly rising healthcare treatment costs does not seem to have translated into Indian consumers being better prepared. This is either because we, as consumers believe that we are a genetically healthy bunch or are unaware of just how expensive medical procedures have become,” says Manish Shah, co-founder and CEO of BigDecisions.
The report further points pout that it is getting more expensive to treat some of the most commonly occurring diseases in India. Amid an inflationary environment in India for at least a decade, prices four years ago were not exactly low. The fact that they have again risen, by double digits in some cities, is noteworthy.
It is clear that there is room for Indian prices to increase further. We believe that current inflationary trends are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. While it is no surprise that typical treatment costs in the US are sometimes more than 10x what they are in India, that they are more than twice as expensive in countries closer to home such as Malaysia and Thailand, means Indians could soon be paying more.
According to the report, over the last 4 years, premiums of most insurers have increased only once, in 2014, over the previous year, reflecting a CAGR of 2.79% (for sum insured of Rs 2,00,000 and Rs 3,00,000) and 3.29% (for sum insured Rs 5,00,000 and Rs 10,00,00).
Data show some 95% of our users are not adequately insured, with 62% of 10,000 BigDecisions users having less than 50% of required health cover. Consumers above 45 (with higher needs, typically higher incomes and fewer years to retirement) are a high-risk group – they are the least prepared for health emergencies as they are under-insured by an average of 69%.  
“We analysed 7,00,000 insurance claims over 4 years to understand incurred treatments costs, inflationary trends, claims and reimbursements for various groups of ailments within large Indian cities across different hospital types,” says Gaurav Roy, co-founder and COO of BigDecisions.
“We further analysed data entered by 10,000 decision makers on our website to understand their current health insurance cover versus their requirements, and found coverage to be abysmal. These findings are derived from an involved decision-making process where many of these users eventually go on to make health insurance purchases with our partners for amounts to make good their shortfall,” he adds.

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