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Recently, we came across news in an online Publication, business-standard.com

Buy Health Insurance to improve your Health

You need not shell out the big bucks to be pampered. Buy a health insurance and enjoy luxury treatment at a spa, join a gymnasium or a yoga centre and get the necessary incentives that suit your budget.

Insurers, including ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co Ltd and Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, are tying up with yoga centers, gyms and spas to provide policy holders an opportunity to improve their health — and looking for avenues to sell more heath insurance. Some of the other insurers are also exploring collaborations with these centers.

“We can pass on the benefit of these initiatives if policyholders start taking preventive measures,” said Datta. “Globally, the benefits are transferred to policyholders in terms of discount in premium. It may happen in another two years in India also.”

To read the full news, click here

Experts from Medimanage.com give their opinion:

KS Sankar:

K S Sankar from Medimanage.com

I would however suggest that the insurance companies, rather than carrying out these initiatives themselves, will stand to benefit by outsourcing these activities to entities enabled to carry this out better. Reasons:

1)      Core competencies: Insurance companies’ core competencies lie in underwriting, not preventive health management.

2)      Customer perspectives: We live in a world where, for all that it is a good to do thing, the mere fact that it is rolled out by the insurance companies who would also tomorrow determine admissibility of my claims, makes me suspect motives. Is it that the insurance company is seeking to establish I am non-compliant with something, using which they could say ‘no’ to my claim.

3)      Focus: Except for Apollo Munich, the other insurance companies are not even dedicated health insurance companies. This activity would obviously not be an activity of prime focus for them.

4)      A lone tree does not make the woods: Just a visit to a spa or participation in gym exercises or yoga is only a part of the more wholesome approach – diet, lifestyle modification, etc. need to be integrated.

5)      Non-specific: Each individual needs a customized holistic prescription of the above combinations. To dish out memberships as panacea for all will not be the most effective way to ensure good health.

6)      Sustained involvement of the beneficiary: Most of the endeavors mentioned here seem merely to take the horse to water. Mere providing a spa/gym/yoga centre membership does not ensure the beneficiary will work through the fitness regimen. The woe of many a gym, we know, is the very high drop out percentage.

To ensure success in this, the following are essential:

a)      Thorough knowledge of pro-active health care and health insurance.

b)      Working dedicatedly in this sphere so that focus is not diffused.

c)       Ability to customize lifestyle modifications that are right fit for each individual.

d)      Interactive IT driven robust processes that will gently but effectively monitor and help the beneficiary through the fitness regimen. 

It would make better sense for these insurance companies to outsource these activities to an entity that has all the above capabilities. This entity could, on one hand, guide and monitor the beneficiary through the regimen and on the other, provide compliance reports to these insurance companies – with complete knowledge of the beneficiary, of course.

Sudhir Sarnobat:

Sudhir Sarnobat from Medimanage.com

Though the moves by the insurers would be called visionary & pragmatic, if these are looked at as remedies for immediate claims reduction, it would not happen so.

The real reasons for current higher claims ratio are:

  • Faulty pricing – The current premium rating emanates for old claims data which is hiked by certain percentages over a period of time. The corporate health insurance, which contributes to 50% total health insurance premium & around 70% of losses, is still priced differently when there are other portfolios like Fire & marine that are bundled together. The pricing across all customer segments should be based on stand-alone basis only.  
  • Unrestricted covers – This pertains more to the corporate segment where the maternity cover or pre-existing cover is offered at nominal premium which brings in huge losses. Also the optional parental cover is also another drainer which brings in anti-selection for the insurer.
  • Uneven spread – Over a period of time, the average age of the insured members is on rise which shows that either more old people are getting the insurance cover (which would bring in claims in immediate future) or not enough young people (below the average age) are buying the health insurance.
  • Low penetration – The low penetration remains a big concern as more than 90% population (among those who can afford insurance) if still uninsured. More than 85% of the payouts at the hospitals remain out of pocket.  

The tie-ups with Gyms are flimsy & one need to create more penetrating program if real change is expected out of such efforts. The gyms have 90% drop outs & that’s how they make their money & remain viable. The diagnostics tie-ups may bring in other diseases which may warrant hospitalisations at the behest of the doctors (read blog by Dr. Aniruddha Malpani here)

tired at the gymHow would you feel, if you were given the choice between working out just one day in the gym as opposed to working out 7 consecutive days that too with the same result? Awe-struck, right?

Jan Helgerud, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is of the opinion that the intensive work out designed for Olympic level athletes can very well work for each one of us! This technique, known as interval training concentrates on short bursts of intense physical exercise with breaks after every short burst.

In a study done on the benefits of interval training, Scientists found that when compared with traditional exercise, it doubled the individual’s endurance! Strength and speed also were found to be showing remarkable improvement in the territory of 10-15%.

Short bursts in interval training include four 4 minute bouts of hard cycling or sprinting with a 3 minute break after every short burst. Other physically taxing sports such as rowing or swimming should also work, says Jan Helgerud. He adds that interval training is twice as effective as normal work out sessions! To sum it up in an interesting analogy, he says that ‘Think of interval training, as a new pill that works twice as well”!

With studies in recent times, focusing on the effects of strenuous activity on older people and people suffering from health problems, having found that there is no conceivable or serious health risk attached to strenuous activity; interval training just might be the answer to your daily gymming woes!

To know more, click here…

knee pain Want to lose weight, join the gym! Want to gain weight, join the gym! Want to build up those muscles, join the gym!Gymming these days has become synonymous with ‘Fitness’.

With the gym having turned into a fitness haven! Wouldn’t you be shocked if you were told that gymming can cause damage?! Well, it can. Take the case of Prachi Gupta, 32, who joined a gym to lose those kilos. Armed with a personal trainer and a strong will to exercise, Prachi thought she had nothing to lose, but the weight. But she almost lost her knees in the process!

What began as a simple 15-20 minutes’ walk on the treadmill, soon turned into a 50 minutes’ walk on steep inclinations! Prachi began doing difficult exercises unsupervised in a bid to lose weight faster, she pushed the envelope a bit farther; doing free body lunges and squats too. All this was putting a tremendous pressure on her knees and it was just a matter of time before her knees gave out. Soon the pain in her knees became intolerable and Prachi had to consult a knee replacement surgeon!  

Whenever our bodies gain weight, it becomes visible on our stomachs and thighs, primarily depending on our body shapes. But what we miss out is that our knees are the most important weight bearing joint in our bodies and weight gain affects them directly as does weight loss, with every 5 Kilos of weight lost reducing three times the pressure on our knees! Putting too much pressure on them while exercising or by running too much can cause swelling and intolerable pain in them. Inactivity also causes problems in the knee joints causing stiffness and pain in them, therby affecting our mobility!

The best way to take care of your knees along with your daily fitness is to give them moderate exercise, a massage once a while have a healthy balanced diet that will cancel out the risk of serious joint problems such as arthritis!

To know more, click here….

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