COVID-19 pandemic spurred health insurance in India: Experts

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New Delhi: According to health insurance experts, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many sectors in India, none more so than the health insurance sector.

Experts believe that the disruption has allowed insurers to be more flexible in terms of launching special health packages, such as home-based COVID-19 care. They were attending a special spotlight session titled “Evolving COVID-19 Treatment and Insurer’s Perspective,” which was co-hosted by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing Council and Prudent Insurance Brokers.

Talking about the evolving treatment that emerged during the various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Srinivas Samavedam, Head of Critical Care & Medical Director, Virinchi Hospitals, Hyderabad, said, “In various stages of this pandemic caused by different variants, many medications were used out of the blue and they caused more harm than any good. That was, in a way, very problematic.”

In the past, several repurposed drugs, such as antivirals (remdesivir, lopinavir), immunomodulatory drugs (corticosteroids, tocilizumab, anakinra) or hydroxychloroquine, have been used for COVID-19 treatment, with poor results for the majority of them, Srinivas Samavedam added.

Mr. Sanjay Datta of ICICI Lombard commented on the evolving treatment policies from the insurers’ perspective, saying, “What we did was maintain regular interaction with the hospitals to ensure the services remain hassle-free and all-important areas are covered, given the claims in an unprecedented manner.”

“There was no restriction placed on the insurers’ behalf in COVID-19 treatment for any patients,” said Mrs. Sushma Anupam, Deputy General Manager, The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Mrs. Anupam stated that, given the severity of the disease, future special packages are being planned for customers’ benefit.

Mr Pavanjit Singh Dhingra, Joint Managing Director, Prudent Insurance Brokers, commented on the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health insurance sector, saying, “The health insurance sector has incurred massive losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Nonetheless, despite everything, from large claims from patients to other constraints, tens of thousands of patients were massively benefited, thanks to the insurance providers’ proactiveness. However, given the long- and short-term implications, a more holistic approach to how future policies should benefit patients against more such deadly diseases is required.”

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