THE PROTECTION OF EMPLOYEES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF TELEMEDICINE INCREASE THE COSTS THAT COMPANIES STUDY FOR THE NEXT YEAR
The enormous competition from Health insurers to expand their market share in Spain forces them to rule out “a price war” although the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic points to a progressive increase in their expenses and costs, the step closer to a progressive increase in premiums that could well be confirmed by 2021.
The main executives of the companies rule out talking about a fight between insurers to gain new clients based on their prices. However, at the same time they allude to “an increase in operating expenses and production costs derived from the health crisis”, according to ADECOSE (Spanish Association of Insurance Brokers).
These new costs include aspects such as investment in protection for employees and it is announced that this new increase “must be offset by premiums.” Summoned by the Spanish brokers, the main executives of ASISA, DKV, Sanitas Seguros and SegurCaixa Adeslas have considered that “the Health insurance is prepared to face the unforeseen expenses caused by the pandemic, since they are temporary costs and the healthcare expenditure ”. Together, they believe that the introduction of new ways of caring for patients can cause “price shocks.”
In Spain, the number of Health clients (provision of services) has grown from 9,238,717 in 2015 to 10,268,012 in 2018, according to the latest report from the UNESPA employer on “The Insurance DNI”. In the same period, Health insurance (sickness benefits) has gone from 1,512,863 clients in 2015 to 1,805,247 in 2018.
Other relevant data indicate that the Health insurance attends about 12,246 daily medical events, of which are visits to the specialist (5,860 per day) and that telemedicine has advanced in this pandemic until it has become an indisputable option. All these interventions translate into the daily payment of 753,733 euros that the companies assume for Health benefits.
Among others, the economic estimates that the Spanish Insurance makes on future payments already committed to clients and victims of mishaps amount to more than 2.46 billion euros.
The companies have verified during this pandemic that the use of telematic medical assistance apps has multiplied by fifteen. Entities such as Ticbiomed confirm “the hyperactivity” that Covid-19 has caused in search engines for new forms of digital health.
Carlos Hernández, General Commercial Director of SegurCaixa Adeslas, citing a study by the consulting firm Bain & Company, highlights that 27% of those surveyed show an intention to purchase private healthcare insurance.
“Health insurance has maintained a growth rate of more than 3.5% in the last decade, above branches such as home or automobile, so there continues to be an opportunity to increase the number of insured in this branch”, Hernández points out.
For the CEO of Asisa, Enrique de Porres, the future of healthcare passes “inexcusably through digitization” and in this sense, appeals to the obligation of the entire sector to “think about new models of coverage, in the long term, based on the new technologies”.
It must be these new technological advances that allow, in the opinion of some experts consulted by La Vanguardia, to contain the price of premiums for a clientele that requires more care related to longer life expectancy and increasingly concerned about well-being and health.
Although health insurance considers today, and unanimously, the decision to maintain coverage of the insured “during this year”, ADECOSE’s debate with the CEO’s surfaces “their concern to define what actions the insurers should cover to guarantee public health ”.
According to Enrique de Porres, “the pandemic and its aftermath will be covered by ASISA, we will continue to serve our policyholders who have been affected” but “it is necessary to distinguish between treating the disease, an aspect for which we are responsible, the obligation of the State to cover public health needs ”.
From DKV, Josep Santacreu, points out his concern about post-covid scenarios that may generate transformations in the care of its insured. “We are more concerned about protocol changes that could enter an exaggerated dynamic, saturate services and cause capacity conflicts in our coverage,” he says.
“Health insurance has been consolidated in many families and companies, despite the economic crisis, since it has been valued due to this health emergency situation,” says Carlos Hernández.
The technological advances on which the new assurance models will be developed should allow, according to the executives interviewed, to adapt the new commercial strategy of the companies. The recruitment of new policyholders and the maintenance of existing portfolios will depend both on the costs and increase in premiums and on the new services offered.
More than half of the Spanish population, according to data from the insurer Cigna, 57%, will choose to access medical consultations online if they have the opportunity. This is a percentage much higher than the 48% registered in January of this year 2020.
The future of healthcare passes “inexcusably through digitization,” says De Porres, claiming the insurance sector’s obligation to “think of new long-term coverage models based on new technologies.”
Large companies like Allianz dedicate human and technical resources to forecasting the future and defining the post-covid scenario in the world. For your expert advisors, digital technology will be the norm, including medical teleconsultation. The use of mobile technological devices will increase. The mental health aftermath of the pandemic is expected to last longer than the pandemic itself. It is very likely that mental health professionals will continue to make use of video medical consultations to carry out different treatments in the future.
The enormous impact of the state of alarm caused by the coronavirus pandemic has put tension from the first moment the health structure of the entire country. Thus, as reported by Vivo Seguro, the 806 hospitals of the National Health System and the 468 private hospital centers and the set of more than 143,300 beds made available to the Ministry of Health faced the great onslaught of the disease.
Private insurance companies have treated more than 22,000 patients in these weeks, according to data provided by Josep Santacreu. Carlos Hernández, states that private health has taken care of 20% of the sick and 15% of the patients in ICUs. “We have assisted more than 6,400 policyholders who have had to be admitted and more than 10,000 through home monitoring,” he certifies.