Nivesh Khandelwal, Founder and CEO, CareCover tells Viveka Roychowdhury on how his company identified and addressed the gaps in currently available health insurance plans
What are the gaps in the currently available health insurance plans?
The gaps in the currently available health insurance plans span across non coverage of pre-existing diseases and many medical treatments, a cap on room charges and type of room. Comprehensive health insurance is usually expensive and beyond the reach of the common man.
How do the requirements of Indian population differ from across the world when it comes to health insurance plans?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India ranks 184 th out of 191 countries in terms of percent-of-GDP spending on health. A study shows that less than 5 per cent of India has private insurance. 65 per cent of the people who are insured are under-insured and hence 70 per cent of India’s healthcare expenditure is paid for from savings.
The challenge in India is that due to a lack of data, health insurance requirements of the Indian population have not been assessed accurately by anyone. Health insurance companies in India work with very high-level data and hence create general plans without taking into consideration specific requirements.
What are the circumstances that make people put off taking health insurance and how has CareCover has addressed them?
The key reasons why people delay/don’t buy health insurance are the lack of affordability of high premiums and complex nature of health insurance policies. Non-payment of dues is the third reason as most people are scared of the insurance companies in India since they think that the claim upon the untimely demise or a sudden medical expense may not be paid for in times of a financial need. Fourthly, there is also ignorance or lack of knowledge. People in India tend to pay huge medical bills from their own pockets or suffer when the person they were dependent on passes away simply because they were oblivious to the benefits and safeguards a life or health insurance policy promises to a person or group of persons. The fifth reason is the myth that health insurance is costly with high premiums. People are still reluctant to buy insurance in India since they tend to go by word-of-mouth analysis of people who give wrong information about policies and quote blatant prices which are not even correct. Many salaried people tend to rely on their employee benefits and think that they can claim expenses from their employers in terms of an accident or any other mishap. They do not feel the need for health insurance and have a chalta hai attitude till a crisis strikes. Many people do not realise the importance of insurance until they need it. People take life insurance in their mid-30s or mid-40s and health insurance only if they feel that they might end up in the hospital for some unforeseeable circumstance. They do not see the value.
CareCover addresses the first two problems by creating a unique low-cost insurance product with easy to understand policy parameters.
When was CareCover operational? You are also CEO and Founder of LetsMD, tell us how the two companies serve patients?
CareCover was started in September 2019. CareCover is a pre-approved medical payment plan which allows a consumer to pay their medical bills in 0 per cent EMIs at any of our partner hospitals. The card can be used to finance any treatment that is not covered under health insurance. The enrolled members having valid activated cards can simply call at our toll-free helpline number for basic details like name of the seeking treatment, hospital name, estimated amount required for treatment along with a letter from the hospital verifying the patient name and bill estimation.
LetsMD is a healthcare market place and a health finance facilitating company, which endeavours to reduce woes of patients who are either taking or intending to take hospital care and treatment and run short of cash. The services of LetsMD are changing the healthcare landscape and ecosystem in India.
CareCover claims to have cut short the time to get cover as well as the documentation. What are the company’s safeguards against fraudulent claims etc?
The CareCover card is only valid at partner hospitals which are very carefully curated based on a proprietary merchant score we have created using feedback from more than 35000 patients we have helped over the last three years. Secondly, we have a proprietary algorithm that assesses the credit and hospitalisation risk of each borrower to ensure minimal fraud.
How large and spread out is CareCover’s network of hospitals and what is the target to increase the number of hospitals under the scheme?
We are currently partners with more than 1500 single, multi and super-speciality hospitals across 10 cities. The goal is to partner with 5000 healthcare service providers in the top 20 cities in India.The target to achieve the above mentioned goal is within next 12 months which stands for Nov 2020.
Which companies, services are competitors to CareCover and what is its USP?
CareCover is a first in class product and we do not have any direct competitors. Our USP is that we combine EMIs and insurance to create a very unique low-cost cover for the consumers which is priced 50 per cent-70 per cent cheaper than traditional health insurance Our USPs are that we cover all surgeries, offer 0 per cent interest EMIs till 18 months, cover all the pre existing illnesses. We also promote Goal-Based investments. Extra interest is paid to the savings account holder at Let’s MD. Our card would cost them 1/3rd the cost of medical insurance. Its hassle-free because there is minimal documentation, fast turnaround time once documents received and there is no need to visit the branch. Origination is entirely digital.
What are the different packages available? Which has seen the most traction?
We finance all surgeries. We do not have packages with hospitals.