Report on health cover for ‘missing middle’ soon: IRDAI

IRDAI has said it will soon come out with its report on covering the ‘missing middle’ in the country under health insurance. The regulator has asked the industry to be prepared to move quickly with insurance solutions required for this segment.

The ‘missing middle’ in the insurance industry refers to the 40-50 crore people who are neither covered under the government’s social schemes providing health insurance nor do they have employers’ or private health insurance.

“A large section of the population – the missing middle – still has no coverage under health insurance. What the insurance solutions are is something that we need to work out. We have already appointed a committee which is working quickly, you should work out your strategy,” said IRDAI chairman Debasish Panda. He was addressing insurance companies at FICCI’s 22nd Annual Insurance Conference in Mumbai.

Speaking at the event, HDFC Ergo MD & CEO Ritesh Kumar said there was an opportunity for insurers to extend health insurance with OPD (outdoor patient department) cover. He said the challenges were the 18% goods and services tax (GST) on the premium and the huge volumes that would be generated. “OPD covers will have to work on networks and cashlessly,” he said.

According to GIC Re Chairman & MD Devesh Srivastava, the need is to have simple, flexible products that can be expanded as the requirement and the purchasing power of the policyholder increases. “When you are young, you do not need health insurance, and old age itself is a disease,” said Srivastava.

United India Insurance CMD Satyajit Tripathy said it were the government schemes that drove insurance penetration in rural areas.

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