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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Here’s my experience of getting a free health check-up

Here’s my experience of getting a free health check-up

In a free package, one should expect less than the usual menu.

it is important for insurers to align the interest of various stakeholders. . (iStockphoto)Premium
it is important for insurers to align the interest of various stakeholders. . (iStockphoto)

Insurers have invested substantially in value-added services to improve their engagement with health policy subscribers. Towards this end, many health insurance policies provide for an annual complimentary health check-up. Unfortunately, most policyholders aren’t aware of this feature. The ones in the know often ignore it because of the perceived hassles involved. I decided to avail the free health check-up embedded in my insurance—provided by one of the largest private sector general insurers— and test the user experience.

The health package

My first port of call was the mobile app. but it had no mechanism to book an appointment for the check-up. In fact, it had no mention of a complimentary health check-up. I then decided on the old-fashioned method of calling customer care. While I was skeptical about explaining the freebie to a customer care representative, I was positively surprised with the response. The feature was instantly acknowledged and the executive was forthcoming to help book an appointment. What the insurer lacked in technology, they made up with their customer service.

In a free package, one should expect less than the usual menu. However, this was literally the bare bones. It omitted several tests. There were no vitamin tests, no echo/TMT, or any other radiology tests. While the lipid tests included total cholesterol, it skipped triglycerides. This free check-up could well be the same package the insurer uses for its medical underwriting. It was definitely not designed as an annual wellness programme and so does not serve its purpose.

Selection of lab and blood collection

This was the step where I almost dropped out of the process. The health check-up could be availed only in the network of the insurer, understandably so. However, there was neither a single hospital in that list nor any well-known national chain of laboratories. One lab was the namesake of a ride hailing service! I finally selected a start-up in the space that I had heard recently about. Yet, several hours later, I got a confirmation for a lab that I had not selected. It was the taxi namesake. I called up the customer service again and they informed me that a change of lab will mean a delay of a few more days. I quickly realized that it may be a lost battle and reconciled with the assigned lab.

A phlebotomist arrived on the morning of the scheduled appointment date to take blood samples. But he was carrying the folder of a third lab! By this time I had lost my will to protest. I had fasted for the last 12 hours and did not have much of an option. The blood work was professional, and it was the fastest ECG I had ever done. The funny part was when the person asked to disclose my alcohol intake for the personal declaration form. I responded candidly. Yet, when he finally asked me to sign the declaration, I found the column on alcohol to be blank. I protested and entered the details myself.

The report and the aftermath

Once the samples were collected, I did not get an acknowledgment from the lab. It’s a practice I have got used to with other labs. Before I could call the customer service, the reports came via email in the evening. I was in perfectly good health. Not one marker was off. Just as I was about to feel good about my latest fitness routine, I saw the values of my alcohol intake. Those were overwritten with white ink. The original values were low, but they had still been altered. Why would someone find it necessary to change that? More importantly, I now felt the need to recheck all other parameters as well.

As I got ready to reply to the sender of the report, I realized that the email id was that of a fourth organization, different from the first three labs. The subject read, ‘Medical reports for Life Application". This was wrong at so many levels. The lab may have thought this to be a check-up for medical underwriting for a new policy and acted accordingly. In either case, they are doing a disservice to the insurer.

Getting user experience right is difficult. More so in health care, where the delivery is fragmented. However, in such situations, it is important for insurers to align the interest of various stakeholders. While the delivery itself could be done by third parties, insurers should have a stronger control on communication processes. By removing surprises, and making the process more predictable, insurers can manage the experience much better.

Abhishek Bondia is principal officer and managing director,

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Published: 25 May 2023, 11:14 PM IST
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