Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) will boost the digital healthcare system in the country,says Dr Malti Jaswal at PHD Chamber’s Conference

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Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) aims to develop the backbone necessary to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country, stated Dr. Malti Jaswal, Senior Consultant, World Bank and Advisor with National Health Authority. She was speaking at the “Conference on Health Insurance 2042- Let us Plan for Ambitious Target for 2042’, organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).

Speaking on the aims of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), Dr. Jaswal, stated, ABDM plans to create a healthcare infrastructure that will bridge the existing gap amongst different stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem through digital highways. Touching upon the objectives of ABDM, she said that a health id for all Indian citizens-ABHA (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) which would be helpful to maintain personal health records digitally and easy to access.

Dr. Malti Jaswalstated that distribution and affordability are two keywords to get a large number of people insured. She elaborated that it is impossible to reach out to them in smaller numbers, hence a concept of the group should be brought in. It can be professional affinity, local affinity, staff affinity, etc. We should insure them in large numbers, not small, she said.

Mr. Pradeep Multani, President, PHDCCI, stated that the health insurance sector has undergone a lot of change in the last two years of the pandemic with people realising its importance. Mr Multani explained that the Ayushman Bharat Scheme has managed to cover the bottom 50 percent of the population and almost 20 percent of the population is covered through various other voluntary schemes. The remaining 30 percent or the missing middle is what the government must look at now.

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According to Mr Multani, the Health Insurance sector in India is expected to grow at a rate of 10.1 percent in the years between 2021 and 2027. He explained that there is a need to develop customised products as one product may not be suitable to take care of the needs of all the people concerned.

Dr. Harsh Mahajan, Chair, Hospital & Diagnostics Committee, PHDCCI and Founder & Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, explained that the hospital sector accounts for 80 percent of the total healthcare segment in the country. He stated that the hospital industry in India would touch $132 billion by 2023 from $62 billion in the year 2017 growing at a CAGR of nearly 16-17 percent.

He informed that the digital healthcare market valued at $116 billion in the year 2018 is expected to touch $485 billion by the year 2024, a growth of 3.5 times. Dr Mahajan explained that the spurt in growth is primarily due to the pandemic which accelerated the diagnostics sector to growth at a rate of 20.5 percent. It is valued at $32 billion now from just $5billion in the year 2012.

Dr. Sameer Gupta, Co-Chair, Hospital & Diagnostics Committee, PHDCCI, stressed how important it is for the insurance provider to adopt the change. He stated that lots of primary healthcare services are going to be virtual down line as COVID has accelerated this even faster. It is very important for the insurance provider to understand and adapt to the change i.e. virtual health services, he said.

Mr. S K Sethi, Co-Chair, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) Committee, PHDCCI & Founder & CEO, Insurance Foundation of India, stated that the health insurance segment which started in the year 1985 got a boost in the year 2001 with the opening of the sector for external players. He informed that from Rs 690 crore in the year 2001, the sector has grown to Rs 73,300 crores in the year 2022 crore, a growth of around 106 times. Speaking at the event, Mr Sethi stated that blockchain technology would help in eliminating the frauds taking place in insurance sectors to a great extent. He also touched upon the subject of mental health in the post-COVID era.

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Mr. Bhaskar Nerurkar, Head, Health Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance – Wellness – Driving the future of Health Insurance stressed the need of controlling the cost of treatment. He went on to say that the cost of treatment across tiers keeps changing, even in the same hospital with the same equipment and doctor the cost changes. For example, the cost of eye cataract surgery in the general ward cost Rs 45,000 whereas it cost Rs 1.75 lakhs in the prince suit. So the line between the treatments is blurring. There has to be some regulation at the hospital too for cost reduction, he said.

Dr.Sultan Kamruddin Badani, Deputy Head- Health & Accident Lines Business, Universal Sompo General Insurance, stressed participation froam stakeholders, he said that there is a need for participation from the stakeholders to increase the awareness among the customers. Also, we need to create an ecosystem which is affordable so we can have a viable long-run system in place, he said.

Mr. Deepak Singh CEO, Cofounder, Tatsam, stated that the insurance company has come up with plans but still they do not recognise/cover the counsellor, therapist however they cover psychiatric. Most policy excludes challenges of mental health once it goes through and there are still some principles which are not reflected in the insurance cover.

Dr. Steward Doss, Professor, National Insurance Academy, Pune, stated that there is a significant treatment gap in India. A lot of these issues can be resolved with insurance cover.  She also stated that there is a need to encourage more people to know about mental health.

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Dr S P Sharma, Chief Economist| DSG, PHDCCI,explained that the health of the people has become an important ingredient for the economic health of the country. He added that earlier, segments like manufacturing or service sector were only considered as the important ingredient, but now even health is also considered as an important ingredient post the pandemic. He added that the country is also focussing on creating the health infrastructure so that the health of the people becomes strong to move forward to become more prominent in the global ecosystem.

The event also saw the releasing of the knowledge paper on Health Insurance 2042.

Ms. Kanya Saraswathy C, Head Commercial and Reinsurance Practice, Insurance Advisory Group & Lead – US West Accounts, BFSI, Tata Consultancy Services Limited, Mr. Deepak Singh CEO, Cofounder, Tatsam, Ms. Annu Dey, Tatsam – Mental Health – Challenges and Opportunities, Mr. Ashish Agrawal, Co-Chair, BFSI Committee, PHDCCI, Mr. Ravi Bhatia, Co-Chair, BFSI Committee, PHDCCI and Mr. Saurabh Sanyal, Secretary General, PHDCCI, also participated in the Conference. Ms. Teena Jain Kaushal, Senior Editor Business Today, moderated a panel discussion during the conference.

The Event was sponsored by PHDCCI’s Annual Sponsors – Multani Pharmaceuticals Ltd; Star Wire; PG Industry; Uflex Ltd; DLF Ltd; Continental Carriers Pvt Ltd; Belair Travel & Cargo Pvt Ltd; Radico Khaitan Ltd; Jindal Steel & Power; MMG Group; Paramount Communications; Superior Industries Limited; JK Tyre & Industries Ltd; SMC Investments and Advisors Ltd; Crystal Crop Protection Ltd; Sagar Group of Industries; Samsung India Electronics; Comtech Interio; R E Rogers; AYUSH Herbs Private Ltd; Apeejay Stya Group; DCM Shriram; EaseMyTrip; Blossom Kochhar Beauty Products Pvt Ltd; Oswal Greentech; Trident Group; MV Cotspin Ltd; Synergy Environics Ltd; Ajit Industries Pvt Ltd; P S BEDI & Co.; Indian Farmer &Fertilizers Corporation Ltd; Jindal Steel; Hindware Sanitary; Modern Automobiles; Livit Ltd; Central Coalfields Ltd  ; Axa Parenterals; Bhagwati Plastic and Pipes Industries; J K Insurance Brokers Ltd; DD Pharmaceutical Ltd.