Interview with ANTONY JACOB, Chief Executive Officer & Whole Time Director, Apollo Munich Health Insurance

 

Ayushman Bharat –National Health Protection Scheme –can’t demonstrate result overnight.

He has been instrumental in shaping and leading the fortune of one of India’s leading standalone health insurance companies. As a leader, he believes in fostering courage, vision and teamwork. His strength lies in inspiration, leadership and future thinking for a healthy population, business, society and the environment. Antony Jacob, the adorable and energetic CEO of Apollo Munich Health Insurance has successfully steered the company towards achieving the avowed aim of uncomplicating health insurance segment by providing unique solutions for its stakeholders. Under his astute stewardship, Apollo Munich has been identified to possess the best rated products by the industry and leading publications. His inspiring leadership has created a great ambience and culture in Apollo Munich, as a result of which, the company has been rated as a Great Place to Work (GPTW) for the 8times in a row. Indeed, it is a remarkable achievement considering today’s stress levels

He holds many coveted memberships of several important bodies like  executive committee member of General Insurance Council (GIC),Co-Chair Health Insurance Committee of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) , Insurance Committee Member of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) & Sub Committee Member on Pension & Household Finance at Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to name a few.

He is a well-known sports aficionado, cricket in particular, and also plays golf and tennis in his leisure time.


Antony Jacob touched upon various initiatives of his company in a lively conversation with Prof.(Dr.) Abhijit K.Chattoraj

Q:-Congratulations Sir, for registering a growth of 31.56% in the first quarter …

A: – That has been a satisfying growth, and I am sure we would cross the Rs. 2000 crore mark this financial year. We have introduced many innovative products to address various segments.

Q: – Could you please articulate the various wellness and preventive features introduced by your company in recent time……I mean how you are different from other companies …

A: – We always believe in introducing innovative products that are not only novel but also provide holistic solutions to the varied healthcare needs of the cross sections of the Indian population, in particular, the millenniums.

With respect to healthcare financing there are three major insights at hand and perhaps also the reason for low health insurance penetration in India: (a) pressure on individuals to pay for day-to-day healthcare expenditure like doctor consultancy, pharmacy, diagnostics etc. from their own pockets (b) affordability of health insurance premiums post retirement, and (c) need for an interesting healthcare financing tool for youngsters.

Today, we take pride in being the pioneer in bringing a revolution in the health insurance segment by introducing a new category WINSURE, along with a revolutionary product – ‘Health Wallet’ which addresses all of the above concerns. For the first time in Indian health insurance market, Health Wallet not only addresses the current needs of the customers by paying for their hospitalisation but also covers their OPD expenses that are usually not covered by health insurance policies. More importantly, it ensures affordability of continuing the policy in later years.

Health Wallet comes with a path-breaking ‘Reserve’ Benefit. The RESERVE benefit creates a reserve kitty for the policyholders that can be used to pay a variety of out-of-pocket expenses such as speech therapy, purchase of medicines, vaccinations, dental expenses, diagnostic tests, spectacles, contact lenses, health food, medical devices like blood pressure and sugar monitors, oximeters, prosthetics, consultations with medical practitioner, physiotherapist, dietician, cosmetic treatment, Alzheimer’s etc. Till now there was no insurance cover available to cover such expenses. It is designed in such a way that it carries forward the unused amount to next policy year and earns a 6% bonus. The accumulated reserve kitty can be used to pay up to 50% of the renewal premium, post 5 continuous renewals. Last but not the least, customers can even use this reserve kitty to fund for co-payment and deductible cost of any other plan as well.

Most health policies cater to healthcare needs on a yearly basis, but Health Wallet provides solutions to your current as well as future healthcare needs.

Q: One finds that your company has also been coming up with a number of disease-specific products …..

Oh yes, we came out with a health insurance plan called ‘Energy’ that covers both type 1 and 2 diabetes from day one. This again is a very novel product as it covers insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) along with conventional Non –insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). The plan covers individuals aged between 18 and 65 currently diagnosed with Type I Diabetes or Type II Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes, i.e. Impaired Fasting Glucose/Impaired Glucose Tolerance or Hypertension. The best part of this policy is that you get inpatient benefit arising out of Diabetes and Hypertension from day one as there is no waiting period that you otherwise get in most conventional policies.

The policy also exemplifies the wellness feature. The policyholders get plenty of wellness supports by way of access to a personalized wellness WEB PORTAL that tracks your medical values from various tests, stores all your medical records and helps you monitor your condition. The other wellness feature that is very distinctive is the availability of personalized highly trained HEALTH COACH to guide, remind and create your personal diet and fitness plans. In addition, there are monthly newsletters providing important tips on healthcare and its management. One can also reach to Centralised Helpline that answers your specific queries related to health. We are gradually moving towards a Managed Care regime.

Most recently we have launched a cancer specific plan called iCan. With the changing lifestyle, we have been witnessing an increase in number of people getting diagnosed with cancer. We have conceptualized iCan keeping in mind three aspects – i) The economic burden of cancer negatively impacting families’ ability to manage their cost of living with high treatment costs pushing them further into poverty, ii) The cost of advance treatments, if the person reaches advanced stage, iii) cancer treatment is often long and expensive. With the launch of iCan, we have introduced customer centric features like support for family, pre and post hospitalization including lifelong renewal among several others. It is a “future ready” product which covers advanced treatments while also offering second opinion by using sophisticated cognitive systems like using IBM Watson for Oncology to enable people make more informed treatment decisions. We look forward to serve our customers with improved products and we are confident that iCan will bring positive change in the communities at large through this distinctive offering.

Q- Are geriatric healthcare needs addressed by any specific policy? I mean any policy that is designed as per the explicit geriatric healthcare needs by creating different institutional settings like homecare and sub-acute care……..

A – We definitely cover many senior citizens. Health Wallet is an example, how the reserve created under ‘Reserve’ benefit over a period of time can help senior citizens to tide over their healthcare needs. Every year the unused reserve amount gets carried forward and earns a 6% bonus. A policyholder can use this accumulated reserve kitty to pay up to 50% of the renewal premium, post 5 continuous renewals. It gives respite to people, especially, senior citizens who can continue enjoying the health insurance cover without worrying about premium funding.

With respect to homecare and sub-acute care for seniors, we see examples in the state like Kerala and some other parts of India, but such institutions would take time to grow. We need policy intervention to popularise such institutions.

Q- Your take on Ayushman Bharat –National Health Protection Mission- there is a great deal of hopes, however, tinged with apprehensions as well.

A – A great and also a bold initiative by the Government of India. But such mammoth scheme requires minimum gestation period of three to four years. A scheme as of this size, cannot demonstrate result overnight.  The success largely would also depend on the willpower of the government.

Q- The defining moment of your life…

A:-Nothing is impossible – that is what I learnt when I had the opportunity to interact with Robert Swan, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. Robert dedicated himself to protecting Antarctica and enthralled people across the globe with his scintillating experiences. In one of his sessions I attended, as a closing remark he asked a group of CEOs the first thing that they would do to implement the session’s learnings– I told him that I would get the first insurance license among the private players and I was able to do it later in the year 2000.  This meeting provoked me to think differently, and I realised that one can pursue his or her dream if there is a concrete intent to achieve the same.

Q –   Ways you unwind…..

A-    I love playing tennis and golf in my leisure time. I watch all sports, but my favourite sport is cricket. I love watching a live cricket match whenever I am free. I also love holidaying with my family both in India and abroad..