Low risk awareness, affordability deter health insurance growth: Irda Chief

Health insurance has not picked up in the country as expected due to lack of affordability and risk awareness, Irda Chairman Subhash Chandra Khuntia said on Friday.

He called for simplification and rationalisation of health insurance products so that they are understood by a common people.

"Low risk awareness, lack of affordability and low understanding of the insurance products -- these are some of the reasons why health insurance has not picked up so well even though the growth rate is high for the higher income group as a whole," Khuntia said at the Health Insurance Summit organised by industry body CII.

As the government's ambitious health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat, which aims to cover nearly 10 crore families comprising almost 50 crore members, takes off, Khuntia asked the insurance firms on board the scheme to offer standardised and simple products that are understandable to the policyholders.

He said most of the states have agreed to join Ayushman Bharat with only a few not yet confirmed to be a part of it.

Ayushman Bharat Chief Executive Officer Indu Bhushan said as many as 28 states/union territories are on board the scheme and the remaining 8 are yet to give their confirmation.

Bhushan said the states will be given the flexibility to implement the schemes.

"It will be one country one scheme. But in this, we are providing a lot of flexibility to the states as different states have different contexts, have different health care scheme behaviours and they have different kinds of capacities, so we have can't have one size fitting all," he said.

The flexibility given to states entails areas like what kind of model they want to achieve and also the coverage.

"They can choose the coverage and cost, so it will be one scheme with some variations across states. Till yesterday, we have signed MoUs with 28 states. 28 states are on board so far and that means 8 states are still not on board but that does not mean they will not join," Bhushan said.

However, Bhushan remained non-committal on the launch of this pan-India health insurance scheme, touted as the largest in the world.