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How Mobile Micro-Health Insurance can unlock ‘Digital for Bharat’?

By :
4 minutes, 8 seconds read

Mobile-enabled micro-health insurance is escalating at a good rate with advancement of digital healthcare technology. It has the potential to deliver quality healthcare services to people by improving accessibility and keeping people well-informed about health issues, thus reducing out-of-pocket expenses. Consumers are prioritizing health above other needs as the rise of digital services in India has enabled catering to the at-home population In India.

Keeping Customers Engaged using digital health tools

Practice of healthcare through mobile can be made interactive by integrating services that can cater to customer needs:

  1. Using chatbots to help customers settle health related queries and diagnosis through simple question-answer sessions. Health emergencies can be solved any time with chatbots due its 24/7 availability. Max Life insurance has made it easier for customers to avail customer service through max life assistant Mili that is integrated in Whatsapp.
  2. Use of mobile health apps helps customers to receive personalized service. Mobile health apps provide virtual care, health tips, and keep track of health status, and locate nearby hospitals. TATA AIA life insurance company partnered with Practo to gain access to a digital health platform through which customers can book appointments, order medicines and consult doctors online.
  3. Integration of mobile apps with fitness trackers, smart health watches helps customers to receive daily updates on their health & well-being. Max Bupa Health insurance partnered with GOQii to track customers’ health and offer discounts to those who achieved healthier goals and lifestyles. 
  4. Use of mobile payments such as mobile wallets, NFC can help customers pay premiums with just a few taps. Reliance general insurance partnered with Paytm and launched “COVID-19 benefit insurance policy” that covers quarantine and health treatment expenses for COVID-19 patients.

More than 2.4 billion people worldwide live on US$2 or less per day. Most low-income families will see their savings be completely wiped out owing to higher out-of pocket healthcare expenses and are likely to be pushed further into poverty. Below are a few mobile micro-health insurance products that are helping such low-income families cover health risks with minimal costs at difficult times.

Innovative New products in micro-health insurance:

  1. BIMA Health- following a mobile insurance model and having partnered with several mobile operators, BIMA covers short-term health events for low-income families by providing tele-doctor services, free health programs giving health tips through SMS, appointment booking services wherein the micro-payments are deducted from monthly phone bills.  
  2. Pona na Tigo Bima- MicroEnsure partnered with Tigo, Bima and Golden Crescent and developed a health insurance product “Get Well with Tigo Insurance” that provides life and hospitalization insurance covering 30 nights in a hospital and uses mobile money for claim settlements. 
  3. Y’ello Health- this micro-insurance service established by MTN Nigeria provides health insurance cover to Nigerians where they can pay and have access to medical treatments through mobile phones. People have access to around 6000 hospitals across the country that are registered in NHIS.
  4. Kilimo Salama: operated by safaricom, Syngenta foundation and UAP insurance, the insurance scheme allows Kenyan farmers to insure farm equipment and inputs against drought and heavy rain. It offers “pay as you plant” insurance by syncing mobile payments and solar powered weather stations. A farmer pays 5% extra for farm inputs for climate coverage. When a weather station reports extreme climate change, the farmer registered with that station automatically receives the amount in mobile. 

MNOs have been the major drivers to enhance the microinsurance industry. Mobile being the dominant in healthcare technology, can be used to structure niche insurance products and serve to educate people on various health issues. Mobile micro-health insurance can serve as a protective blanket against health emergencies as mobile can bridge the gap between the insurers and low-income families, be it mobile policy information, claims filing, renewals, query and claim payments. An adequate balance can be achieved between affordability and accessibility by partnerships with MNOs to deliver real value to the customers.

Untapped Opportunity & Drivers of Micro-health Insurance

In developing countries, the estimated volume for microinsurance is between 1.5 and 3 billion policies. These policies typically account for demand in health, agriculture, property, and disaster cover. At present, only 5% of this market is currently tapped and is being driven by large commercial insurers. To expand the market, commercial insurers should partner with innovative startups, NGOs and other facilitators. As mobile penetration deepens, it will also open more doors for low income groups to have access to better quality financial savings products. For instance, WhatsApp which has a total of 400M users in India, 15 million of which are small businesses, is targeting financial services such as insurance, micro-credit & pension for the rural/informal sector through ‘WhatsApp Pay’. The ‘Digital for Bharat’ challenge needs simplicity in the products & services being designed for the rural mass and finding innovative distribution channels to truly establish the roots of this market.

To know about how healthcare industry is bringing hospitals to a customer’s doorstep, watch our webinar on Digital Health Beyond COVID-19.

Further Readings:

  1. Reimagining Medical Diagnosis with Chatbots
  2. HealthTech 101: How are Healthcare Technologies Reinventing Patient Care
  3. What will be the state of the healthcare industry post pandemic?
  4. Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care
  5. Does Microinsurance work for India’s poor?
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