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The enormous competition from health insurers to expand their market share in Spain makes it necessary to rule out “a price war” although the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic points to a progressive increase in their expenses and costs, the step closer to a progressive increase in premiums that could well be confirmed by 2021.

The main directors of the companies rule out talking about a fight between insurers to win new clients based on their prices. However, at the same time they refer to “an increase in operating expenses and production costs derived from the health crisis”, according to ADECOSE (Spanish Association of Insurance Brokers).

These new costs include aspects such as investment in protection for employees and it is announced that this new increase “must be offset by premiums”. Summoned by the Spanish brokers, the main executives of ASISA, DKV, Sanitas Seguros and SegurCaixa Adeslas considered that “deductible Health insurance is prepared to deal with unforeseen expenses caused by the pandemic, as these are temporary costs and as the healthcare spending”. Together, they believe that the implementation of new ways of caring for patients can cause “impacts on prices”.

In Spain, the number of Health clients (provision of services) has grown from 9,238,717 in 2015 to 10,268,012 in 2018, according to the latest UNESPA employers’ report on “El DNI del Seguro”. In the same period, Health insurance (sickness benefits) has gone from 1,512,863 clients in 2015 to 1,805,247 in 2018.

Other relevant data indicates that Health insurance attends to some 12,246 daily medical acts, of which they are visits to the specialist (5,860 per day) and that telemedicine has advanced in this pandemic to consolidate itself as an indisputable option. All these interventions translate into the daily payment of 753,733 euros assumed by the companies for Health benefits.

Among others, the economic estimates that the Spanish Insurance makes on future payments already committed to customers and victims of mishaps amount to more than 2,460 million euros.

Companies have verified during this pandemic that the use of telematic medical assistance apps has multiplied by fifteen. Entities such as Ticbiomed confirm “the hyperactivity” that Covid-19 has caused in search engines for new forms of digital health.

Carlos Hernández, General Commercial Director of SegurCaixa Adeslas, citing a study by the consulting firm Bain&Company, points out that 27% of those surveyed show an intention to purchase private healthcare insurance.

“Health insurance has maintained a growth rate of more than 3.5% in the last decade, above branches such as home or automobile, so there is still an opportunity to increase the number of insured in this branch”, Hernandez points out.

For the CEO of Asisa, Enrique de Porres, the future of healthcare passes “inexcusably through digitization” and in this sense, he appeals to the obligation of the entire sector to “think of new coverage models, in the long term, based on the new technologies”.

It must be these new technological advances that allow, in the opinion of some experts consulted by La Vanguardia, to contain the price of premiums for a clientele that requires more care related to greater life expectancy and is increasingly concerned about the well-being and health.

Although the Health insurance considers today, and unanimously, the decision to maintain the coverage of the insured “during this year”, ADECOSE’s debate with the CEO’s emerges “their concern to define what actions should be covered by insurers to guarantee public health.

According to Enrique de Porres, “the pandemic and its aftermath will be covered by ASISA, we will continue to attend to our policyholders who have been affected” but “it is necessary to distinguish between treating the disease, an aspect for which we are responsible, the obligation of the State to cover public health needs”.

From DKV, Josep Santacreu, points out his concern about post-covid scenarios that may generate transformations in the care provided to its policyholders. “We’re more concerned about protocol changes that could get into overdrive, overwhelm services, and cause capacity conflicts in our coverage,” he says.

“Health insurance has been consolidated in many families and companies, despite the economic crisis, since it has been valued due to this health emergency situation,” says Carlos Hernández.

The technological advances on which the new insurance models will be developed must allow, according to the executives interviewed, to adapt the new commercial strategy of the companies. The attraction of new policyholders and the maintenance of existing portfolios will depend both on the costs and increase in premiums and on the new services offered.

More than half of the Spanish population, according to data from the insurer Cigna, 57%, will choose to access online medical consultations if they had the opportunity. This is a much higher percentage than the 48% registered in January of this same year 2020.

The future of healthcare passes “inexcusably through digitization,” says De Porres, claiming the obligation of the insurance sector to “think of new coverage models, in the long term, based on new technologies.”

Large companies such as Allianz dedicate human and technical resources to forecasting the future and defining the post-Covid scenario in the world. For your expert advisers, digital technology will be business as usual, including medical teleconsultation. The use of mobile technology devices will increase. The mental health fallout from the pandemic is expected to last longer than the pandemic itself. It is very likely that mental health professionals will continue to use video medical consultations to carry out different treatments in the future.

The enormous impact of the State of Alarm caused by the coronavirus pandemic has put the health structure of the entire country in tension from the outset. Thus, as reported by Vivo Seguro, the 806 hospitals of the National Health System and the 468 private hospital centers and the group of more than 143,300 beds made available to the Ministry of Health faced the great onslaught of the disease.

Private insurance companies have treated more than 22,000 patients in recent weeks, according to data provided by Josep Santacreu. Carlos Hernández, states that private healthcare has taken care of 20% of patients and 15% of patients in ICUs. “We have served more than 6,400 policyholders who have had to be hospitalized and more than 10,000 through home monitoring,” he certifies.

“In a matter of days we built field hospitals and ICU beds and obtained respirators for private and concerted centers; we tripled the number of beds and quadrupled the number of ICUs; our 24-hour telephone went from answering 1,000 calls to 6,000”, adds the General Manager.

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