Health Dynamics Shifting, Policy Bazaar Study Shows

Non-metro cities demonstrate a promising level of awareness about health insurance coverage, Policy Bazaar study shows.

GURUGRAM, Apr 6 (The CONNECT) – A whopping 87% surge in the share of customers opting for pre-existing diseases coverage has been recorded in Q4 FY23 as compared to same quarter last year.

To observe changing consumer preferences this World Health Day, the Policy Bazaar analyzed the data of over 1 lakh health insurance customers. While Q4 FY22 saw 17% of customers buying coverage for pre-existing conditions, the number has nearly doubled this year to 32%.

Though alarming, the figures also represent a compelling need for adequate coverage as well as growing consumer awareness regarding new-age health insurance products amid shifting health dynamics, Policy Bazaar said. 

Broadly, the findings revealed a positive shift in consumer awareness regarding health insurance. Some notable insights are:

Non-metros fare better: Interestingly, non-metro cities demonstrate a promising level of awareness when it comes to health insurance coverage, with a 41% and 37% increase in customers from tier-2 and tier-3 cities, respectively, in contrast to a 24% uptick in tier-1 cities. The spurt in numbers also points towards improved access to protection products owing to increased online consumption of financial services in recent times. 

Multi-year policies in demand: The share of multi-year policies in the overall pie has increased from 24% to 68%. The primary reason behind this is an average 17% hike in premiums of popular plans by insurance companies. As many as 42% of customers are willing to pay upfront for 3 years in a bid to spare themselves the future financial strain of growing medical inflation.
Rise in high-sum insured policies: Similarly, consumers are also inclined towards high-sum insured in their policies as a strong shield against medical inflation. The findings showcase a steep rise of 56% in the number of customers opting for a cover higher than Rs 5 lakhs (39% in Q4 FY22 vs 61% in Q4 FY23). Not just this, the number of customers opting for a sum insured of less than Rs 5 lakhs has seen a sharp decline of 36%, reflecting a descending propensity towards lower coverage. With a rise in critical illnesses and large hospitalization expenses, consumers now understand the significance of being adequately equipped with a higher sum insured.

Top features demanded: Not only this, the rider for a higher cover amount also ranks at the top of most-asked-for features by consumers. Other popular riders are coverage for annual health check-ups and OPD (outpatient department). Around 60% of the customers look for an annual health check-up feature in their policies, showcasing a growing inclination towards preventive healthcare.
Wellness benefits are sought-after: The demand for preventive healthcare is also reflected in the high demand for wellness benefits wherein customers are entitled to discounts or benefits upon renewal for meeting the fitness criteria in their policy. As many as 45% of customers look for wellness benefits, which not only characterizes growing consumer awareness for healthcare but also for new-age features in health insurance products. 

Sarbvir Singh, Joint Group CEO, Policybazaar.com, said, “As a principle, Policybazaar has always been guided by the consumer, and so we develop new-age solutions that align with dynamic consumer needs. With the insurance industry evolving to focus on prevention as well as protection, these consumer insights also reflect a growing appetite for wellness and preventive healthcare features. The change in consumer sentiment is also evident with tier-2 & tier-3 cities showcasing a higher inclination for health insurance protection. We, along with our insurer partners, will continue to leverage technology to make insurance more accessible, affordable and relatable for our consumers.”

The other features that emerged as popular choices in the findings were locking premium as per age, 7x higher sum assured, unlimited restoration benefit and low or no waiting period for senior citizens. These innovative features make health insurance plans more flexible and customizable to suit changing consumer needs.