Mr. Antony Jacob's Interview in NDTV

What types of products are most popular? How about your focus for product development in India?

Inpatient indemnity cover is the most preferred and widely bought health insurance product in India. All general and health insurance players offer the same with few variations. However, Health insurance as a sector in India gained in importance post detarification in 2007 and since then there are visible examples of interesting product innovations.

With the strong understanding that Apollo Hospitals and Munich Health bring to healthcare and health insurance, we are in a good position to develop new market leading products. We will do this with a clear understanding of the voice of the customer. Having said that, we already have some of the best products in the market, and the scope for growth is quite substantial.

Nowadays most companies offer corporate health insurance to their employees as a part of their benefits package which is often positioned as an attractive proposition to retain talent but it needs to be noted by India Inc that the cover ceases to exist once the corporate employee moves out of the organization or there is a policy change for the employer side.

Thus keeping in mind the volatility of the professional and economic environment it is imperative for all corporate employee to look beyond the group insurance plan as extended by an employer and choose an adequate health cover for himself as well as his family at an younger age to make sure all diseases are covered when needed.

1. What were the factors driving Munich Re to form a stand-alone health insurance company with Apollo Hospitals Group in India?

The Munich Re group was keen to partner with a brand that shared similar interest in pure health insurance and had a strong provider background, India knowledge and a strong brand equity.

The Apollo Hospitals group, the premier healthcare brand and “architect of modern healthcare” was known for its good reputation for innovative and high-quality healthcare services. In the Group Munich Re identified complementary strengths which have added value to the Joint Venture.

On the other hand, Apollo examined the global market in search for a technically strong partner and found that in the Munich Re Group, DKV was an appropriate choice considering the common commitment to operate in the pure health insurance space.

The Long experience of Munich Re in areas of product innovation, technical expertise in underwriting, actuarial skills etc complement Apollo’s strengths in the Indian market and hence the fit is strategic and perfect.

2. How do you see the potential of stand-alone health insurance operation in India? What are the advantages for this operation model?

At present the health insurance sector is characterized with very low penetration (only 3% of the Indian population is covered with some insurance cover), high out-of-pocket expenses and steep medical inflation (which is much higher to general inflation). It is estimated that 80 per cent of the healthcare spending is actually an out-of-pocket expense for individuals. On the other hand, changing demographics, affluence and work-life balance in India has brought about a paradigm shift in attitudes and demand for better and the best quality of healthcare. Health insurance as a mechanism to finance is therefore finding greater acceptability. Thus the market has great prospects, but the need of the hour is to identify products that will suit customers’ insurance needs and win their confidence.

We believe that through our model of joint venture we will be able to understand the health care financing requirements of this country. Our parentage helps to understand how health care financing through insurance has worked in similar countries overseas through the support of Munich health. This unique blending brings in products and services to this country which is fully researched and tested in other markets. So we do believe that we have the advantage and we have rolled out few of our products which is reflects the blended advantage of the two specialist parents we have. We will continuously innovate and bring in expertise which we believe would be possible only through this unique combination.

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