IRDAI’s expert committee of doctors and scientists to suggest ways to improve health insurance in India

MUMBAI: India’s insurance regulator IRDAI has set up an advisory committee composing some of the country’s foremost medical practitioners and researchers to improve the quality of product and coverage of the health insurance in the country.

“Health Insurance in India has grown significantly in recent years and is expected to continue in the coming years,” the regulator said in an order released on Wednesday. The move comes at a time when the government is mulling ways to improve penetration of health insurance in India, which at less than 4% of the GDP is below par compared to most advanced and emerging economies.

“IRDAI has taken various steps to ensure orderly growth, improving efficiencies of health insurance system and protect the interests of the policyholders. In this background, it is decided to constitute a committee of experts to advise the Authority on various aspects…” the Authority said.

The committee would be chaired by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) chairperson currently being Subhash Khuntia. The ten-member expert committee composes eminent medical researchers, practitioners, professors and physicians among others from across the country.

The committee – whose tenure has been fixed for one year — has been asked to examine the availability of the health insurance products in the country “in the light of the need of the Indian Society and recommend suitable products and processes.”

The committee has also been asked to suggest specific disease or an area of practice specific insurance covers. Apart from these, the terms of reference for the committee include examining the structures of policies to policyholders and suggest ways to make medical insurance cheaper.

Separately, IRDAI in another circular issued on Wednesday also reiterated to non-life insurance companies to “make efforts” to have agreement with hospitals on rates for treatment of Covid-19 similar to how they price other diseases.

“Also, while entering into such agreements, the reference rate of GI council can be kept in view for guidance alongwith rates fixed by State Governments and Union Territory administration, if any and as relevant,” IRDAI said in the circular.

Since the onset of the pandemic, a major cause for tussle between insurance companies and hospitals have been disparity in pricing by various hospitals, not in line with the rates specified by the General Insurance (GI) Council in June of 2020.

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