More tax relief sought for health insurance

Special Correspondent

Need for affordable, sustainable healthcare

HYDERABAD: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has favoured more tax concessions to make health insurance policies attractive with a view to encouraging people to buy health insurance.

Speaking at a function organised by Medwin Hospitals on its achievement of NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare) accreditation here on Saturday, J. Hari Narayan, Chairman, IRDA, said Rs. 2 lakh crore was spent on healthcare by individuals annually of which Rs. 70,000 crore was going for surgical interventions. The remaining sum was spent on outpatient treatment and medicines.

Insurance penetration

The insurance industry covered a niggardly three per cent or Rs. 6,000 crore of this encompassing a meagre 74 lakh policies. He wanted the penetration of insurance as a methodology into society. While 35 per cent of those insured were below 25 years of age, 60 per cent were above 40 years.

He said that 20 per cent of claims belonged to the 25-year-olds (precisely five-year-olds), 30-35 per cent of claims were of those between 25 and 60.

Among the claims across different age groups, it was observed that an average four days of hospital stay was observed.

The average claimed amount was around Rs. 25,000, while the insurance companies settled Rs. 20,000 a claim.

An average maximum of Rs. 40,000 was paid to cases circulatory system-related problems.

While the highest cost of healthcare was reflected in Mumbai and Bangalore, the lowest was found in Delhi and Hyderabad. In terms of cost structure of healthcare, there was huge difference between Tier-I and Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

Healthcare would be in deep trouble, unless policy-makers and other stakeholders figure out a vision on how to run the sector.

Affordable and sustainable healthcare was an important factor they should bear in mind while formulating the rules.