Committee to look at health plans for aged

Committee to look at health plans for aged

New Delhi: Concerned by the expensive health insurance plans available to senior citizens of the country, a committee on health insurance for senior citizens, set up by the insurance regulator—the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA)—is going to convene a three-day meeting, which is scheduled to start from 18 September.

“We have, recently, got complaints from senior citizens about the problems they face in buying insurance cover and the poor quality of services," said C.S. Rao, chairman of IRDA. “The meeting would also address the issue of increased premiums for seniors," he added.

After finance minister P. Chidambaram’s 2007-08 Budget speech, health insurance products for senior citizens have caught the attention of both IRDA and non-life insurance companies.

Several public sector insurance companies have already launched specially designed policies for people above 60 years of age.

National Insurance Co. Ltd, a Kolkata-based insurance provider, has launched Varistha Mediclaim Policy for people in the age group of 60-80 years, while United India Insurance Co. Ltd, a Chennai-based company, has come up with a senior citizens policy designed for people in the age bracket of 61-80 years.

Niraj Kumar, general manager of New Delhi-based The Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd, said the company would soon come out with a product for senior citizens.

“Our senior citizens policy will have no age limit on the higher side," said Kumar. “Our product would work on a hospital reimbursement arrangement."

IRDA set up the committee few months back to address what it considered to be a serious problem for the greying population.

The meeting would look at innovative ways to help senior citizens adopt healthier lifestyles, such as having a family doctor, similar to primary-care providers in managed care policies in the West, and inclusion of an overseas medical policy as a rider.

The broad purpose of the meeting would be to hear out various stakeholders in the industry, including the regulator, government, insurance companies, medical service providers and third-party administrators (TPAs).

IRDA has circulated a notice to all the parties involved to take up the concerned issues with due diligence. After the non-tariff regime, the health insurance industry is not cross-subsidized by motor and fire insurance and, therefore, health insurers are going through a tough transition period. Currently, health insurance subscribers pay according to their age.