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Need for enabling universal access to health insurance
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) has urged that evolution of Universal Healthcare system should be adapted to the needs of all layers of the society, particularly senior citizens and differently-abled people.

DELIVERING THE key-note address at the 6th Health Insurance Summit 2012, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the IRDA Chairman J Hari Narayan, underscored the need for a massive education campaign, across the country, involving all stakeholders to enable universal access to health insurance.

In this regard, he said, the Public Health Foundation has done considerable research in this field. The CII Working Groups on health insurance should also deliberate on these issues and build a framework of implementable action plans.

At the same time, the products to be evolved should address aspects of both medical and surgical interventions, at an affordable cost. Design of a product, active education campaign and evolution of standards, codes and clinical protocol are critically important for achieving universal healthcare.

Narayan said during the summit that a considerable ground has been covered in popularizing health insurance in the country. He hoped that these consultations would continue to make the system more transparent and accountable for all stakeholders.

The IRDA chairman observed that the government was having a re-look at the tiered agent system, as the finance minister pointed out the other day. He said that there is a case for allowing banks to handle products of more insurance companies. The rationale is that presently only 20 per cent of the branches of a bank handle sale of insurance products. The rest of the branches should be allowed to sell products of other insurance companies. Also, the role of the bank can be migrated from that of an agent to a broker, which would enable them to sell products of more than one insurance company.

Laying emphasis on building trust among stakeholders, IRDA chairman said that it could be brought about by understanding each other’s views, perspectives and challenges. “Undoubtedly, there has been some positive development in this regard as reflected in the higher penetration of health insurance, but we have to traverse a long way in meeting the target,” he added.

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