BusinessDay

COVID-19: Insurers find growth opportunities in healthcare services

…as insurers float HMO subsidiaries …create healthcare product lines

With COVID-19 increasingly exposing the inadequacies in the global healthcare sector amid low coverage of a larger population of citizens, in an economy that is also biting hard, the Nigerian insurance industry has moved in to close the gap.

The Nigerian healthcare coverage, put at less than 5 percent of the country’s population, is providing a new growth space for innovative insurance companies, according to industry data.

Insurance industry players, who have identified this opportunity, are either coming with wholesale health insurance subsidiaries or partnering with established Health Management Organisations (HMOs) to provide additional services that increase benefits for enrollees.

The Nigerian insurance players say the HMOs have an organised enrollee customer base that provides an opportunity to increase healthcare benefits and other personalised insurance services that enhance the standard of living of the citizens.

Akin Ogunbiyi, chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance plc, says, “HMOs have an organised clientele base that we can partner with to enhance their healthcare benefits, and at the same time sell other insurance products.”

According to Ogunbiyi, Mutual Benefits Life Assurance is currently partnering with a HMO to enable its enrollees to enjoy extended benefits from conventional insurance products.

HMOs pull about N100 billion premium annually, and this is just from a small percentage of the population, so the potential of that industry is huge, and we are happy to partner with them, Ogunbiyi states.

Read also: Nigeria’s Healthcare sector faces major disruption with launch of Leadway Health

Since the detection of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria in 2020, an increasing number of insurance companies have opened HMO subsidiaries.

Recently, Nigeria witnessed the launch and formal unveiling of Leadway Health, a subsidiary of Leadway Assurance Company Limited; and Consolidated Hallmark HMO, a subsidiary of Consolidated Hallmark Insurance plc. These are in addition to existing insurance subsidiary HMOs including AXA Mansard Health and Royal Exchange HMO, among others.

Tokunbo Alli, CEO, Leadway Health, states that the introduction of Leadway Health would serve as a disruption and an exceptional redefinition of the delivery of reliable and affordable health care to the public.

“With the introduction of Leadway Health Limited, our range of solutions would help bridge the gap in providing quality, accessible, and affordable health services to Nigerians.

“We are confident in a healthcare system that genuinely cares for your health, your wealth, and more,” he says.

Dotun Adeogun, managing director, Hallmark HMO, notes that the vision of her company is to improve unfettered access to knowledge of, as well as quality and affordable health services.

According to Adeogun, Hallmark HMO has continued to leverage the use of technology to deliver top-notch health maintenance services to its growing clientele nationwide.

Meanwhile, some other insurance companies have shown interest by way of product development for health and also travels, including Mutual Benefits Life, Old Mutual, NSIA Insurance, among others.

Ademola Ifagbayi, managing director, Mutual Benefits Life, says “What we have done at Mutual Benefits is to partner an HMO. We looked at the product they have for their enrollees and said, what happens to beneficiaries of this healthcare package if the chief contributor passes on.

“Therefore, we came up with a product that says, if the contributor passes on, his wife and four children should continue to enjoy that healthcare for at least two years; or the HMO during a condolence to the bereaved family presents a cheque of N500,000 to N1 million as additional compensation.”

This package is exciting and has been largely accepted by our partner enrolees, he states.

Keith Alford, managing director, Old Mutual Nigeria Life Assurance Company, notes that close to 90 percent of Nigerians lack health insurance, leaving 9 out of every 10 Nigerians completely exposed to the huge and harsh financial impact of contracting any critical illness.

“We know that critical illnesses such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, kidney, and liver diseases are eternally lurking in the corners and can spring on us without warning. Our desire at Old Mutual is for any patient who has any of the critical illnesses to concentrate his or her willpower to full and speedy recovery rather than double the grief with the financial burden for the expensive treatment.”

For the Old Mutual Critical Illness Plan, the minimum entry age for this type of policy is 18 years while the maximum entry age is 67 years. While the ceasing age is 70 years, the policy term spans from 3-15 years, and the cover amount ranges from a minimum of N500,000 to a maximum of N30,000,000, the company says.

Ebelechukwu Nwachukwu, managing director of NSIA Insurance, says it provides a robust health plan to local companies who want to provide their staff with access to quality healthcare in Nigeria and beyond as well as multinationals operating in Nigeria, who desire to harmonise their health insurance plan across Africa.

“Companies that purchase the product rest assured that their staff will easily access the best medical services, wherever they are in the world when the need arises,” according to Nwachukwu.

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