For realistic and sensible answers on the questions on health insurance and how the industry is coping with Covid, Now! Jakarta turned to Peter Phelan, President Director of International Services Pacific Cross, a consultancy and services provider to the health insurance industry, to help our readers understand the current position of health insurance industry in unprecedented times.
NJ. Has the Covid crisis seen an increase or decrease in health insurance business?
PP. The period we have been living with Covid is relatively short, still less than one year, so it is difficult to assess what is the business impact in such a short timescale. What we can see is that there is a much higher interest in health insurance products, at both an individual and company level - and that interest has become a motivator for enquiries and (at least by initial assessment) some increase in new business premiums. Existing customers are now less likely to cancel health insurance policies as the value of full health insurance cover is perhaps better appreciated at a time when health issues are so frequent in the headlines.
NJ. Are people requesting coverage specifically for Covid related conditions or has this led to a greater awareness of health issues and therefore a need to protect against the consequences
PP. Yes, many customers are asking for Covid cover and ensuring that this is part of the package of cover when they purchase health insurance. There is no doubt that many customers are now much better informed (through online and news sources) on health issues, and healthcare insurance choices. People are concerned that they have in place some health insurance protection to cover them if the government resources are unable for any reason to do so - essentially insurance is seen as a back up plan to any state benefits or healthcare provision.
Covid has had the effect where many people actually see their medical adviser less, as there is a fear of attending clinics or hospitals due to (in the consumer mind) the raised risks of attending an environment where Covid patients may be treated. This in turn has created a huge demand in online information resources, where information is in full supply from many providers.
One point which is important - there are many sources of disinformation or poor information online and in general around. We advise our customers to stick with government and medical specialist resources, such as World Health Organisation guidelines, to secure accurate advice on understanding Covid conditions and responses.
NJ. How is the insurance industry coping with the pandemic?
PP. As an industry, insurers (and particularly health insurers) have changed many of their practices in response to Covid demands on claims and other support services. For example, in most cases they have done away with the requirement for original documents and moved to electronic versions, making claims payments faster and easier.
Insurers have also put much information and support materials online, using apps and Web services. This includes making sales easier by putting the process online, offering products which can be more easily (and ‘socially distantly’) be purchased using electronic media.
NJ. What is your advice to people in Indonesia. Should they check their coverage? Should they take out additional coverage? Or will that not help?
PP. As expected, we advise customers without private health insurance cover to research alternatives which can be inexpensively available to them, and to seek the peace of mind in having private health insurance cover to meet their needs. Plans are available from quite reasonable premiums, with many options to ensure that your needs are accurately met.
We also advise that people should read up on and be well informed on Covid and its conditions. Know how to prevent the transfer of the disease (e.g. social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing), know how to recognise the signs of any infection (e.g. raised body temperature, cough, loss of smell) and be sure what actions to take regarding testing and treatments. Most tests will end up with a negative result, so there is no need to be afraid of testing - if you have the symptoms of Covid it is very much in your interests to know if you have the virus, and to have it best treated.
In the longer term, into 2021, with the help of vaccines and better treatments we will finally be able to manage and control Covid to the extent that it becomes much less of an immediate threat. Hopefully in the second half of 2021 we will see the emergence of normal life and normal social activity again.
Thank You Peter and we hope that your services will really help all those who face the financial consequences of this pandemic .
Pacific Cross: https://www.pacificcross.co.id