Diverse stakeholders from the central and state government, regulatory body, insurance and digital technology industry, nonprofits and multilaterals participated in the roundtable discussion hosted by ACCESS Health International and Pfizer Inc on the topic of insurance innovations to strengthen Universal Health Coverage last month. The discussion was steered by Dr Krishna Reddy Nallamalla, Regional Director, South Asia, ACCESS Health International. He also gave the opening address on the occasion.

The topic for the Roundtable was titled “Opportunities to Strengthen Universal Health Coverage in India by Innovation in Private Health Insurance.” The discussion focused on challenges and opportunities to achieving and sustaining India’s Universal Health Coverage scheme, Ayushman Bharat. Despite progress made in Ayushman Bharat, penetration of insurance coverage and level of insurance coverage– private or public- remains low in India. In light of the rising tide chronic conditions, medical inflation, and longer life expectancies, the cost of healthcare in India has been steadily rising putting families at risk of catastrophic household expenditures.

The roundtable discussion centered on the role of insurance innovations, notably partnerships between public and private sector, that could help promote better coverage, access, and quality for everyday Indians. Drawing from a report by ACCESS Health International, seven models of insurance innovation were presented that help to 1) sustain Universal Health Coverage, 2) tackle the noncommunicable disease burden, and 3) promote prevention and wellness.

Key insights were derived along the following areas:

  • Need for the inclusion of digital technologies for innovative insurance models
  • Strong appetite from state and central government to partner with private sector on adoption of innovative insurance models
  • Important role of non-profits and NGOs in leading innovative financing and insurance models
  • Challenges and opportunities to implement innovative models in India

The discussion came to a fruitful conclusion with all the stakeholders acknowledging the challenges and the roles played by the diverse stakeholders present on the roundtable. The stakeholders agreed that building a common ground between all the members of the ecosystem is necessary. Stakeholders resonated that in India, interest, initiative and innovation are abundant and streamlined discussion and dialogue would lead us to successful innovations. Finally, the consensus was formed on the need for more meetings and this roundtable has assembled the right mix of expertise and experience to facilitate innovation and action in health financing through pilots and partnerships.

The roundtable was a part of a series of such sessions convened by ACCESS Health International Southeast in emerging markets in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India. The roundtable sessions, supported by Pfizer over the past three months, brought together stakeholders in the insurance innovation value chain – namely government policymakers, insurers, insurtech, digital health, and other tech companies (fintech, e-commerce) – to develop and deploy private health insurance for the populace. Exploring how to move from paper to partnerships, the discussions focused on innovative financing models of supplemental insurance to better support universal health coverage programs and digitally-enabled and affordable mass insurance targeted at the masses.

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