Insurers must go beyond their "traditional role" of protection and paying claims, to partner consumers in promoting and supporting their health and well-being, providing platforms for engagement and advice, as well as helping them live healthier lives through shared data, said speakers at the Asia Conference on Healthcare and Health Insurance organised by Asia Insurance Review.
There are a few takeaways insurers should consider and address against a background of ongoing digitalisation to do this.
Mr Vincent Lepez, Deputy CEO of SCOR Global Life Asia Pacific, said these are: 1) a widening gap between industry intention and customer perceptions; 2) a growing need to understand and influence customer behaviour to stimulate demand; 3) the integration of life and health insurance services is inevitable and welcome; and 4) a re-imagination of the health insurance proposition to stay relevant.
Underpinning these is the need for the industry to build trust with its customers so that they in turn will be more willing to share personal data.
He shared that a primary concern for consumers when it comes to sharing personal health data is the lack of privacy, as found by ReMark’s recent global consumer study. But some types of data, such as physical activity (tracked with wearable devices), lifestyle choices and height and weight, are “more shareable” than others. To this end, Mr Lepez advocated the “Biological Age Model”, a risk assessment tool based on wearable data – such as age, daily steps, gender and daily activity – as a new way of identifying and predicting the health status of consumers, without being too intrusive.
Three megatrends affecting health insurance
Separately, Mr Laurent Pochat-Cottilloux, Global Head of Health Reinsurance Partnerships for AXA, outlined three megatrends affecting the health insurance sector. Though they are not new, they “have so much momentum that they seem unstoppable”.
First, healthcare is becoming ever more complex, expensive and personalised; second, consumers on average are becoming more affluent, have rising expectations of medicine, and are seeing a higher prevalence of lifestyle diseases; and third, increasing interconnectivity and globalisation have shaped an “international mindset” for everyone and everything, where “everyone wants the best tech, talent or service etc available, regardless of boundaries”.
The three trends taken together however account for above-average growth of key customer groups for health insurers, namely expatriate workers who are localising quicker; more affluent consumers from developing markets seeking the best treatment in their region; the underinsured customers from mature markets seeking value for money; and increasing international students and leisure travellers. As such, Mr Pochat-Cottilloux noted that a significant opportunity for health insurers in the future lies in cross-border health insurance.
The conference was organised with the support of the Life Insurance Association of Singapore and the International Insurance Society.
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