Thursday, July 29, 2010

Insurance companies to buy medical devices and medicines at wholesale /negotiated rates to save money

It is nice to know that Insurance companies will now be buying devices like stunt/pace maker at whole sale or say negotiated rates from manufacturers with a view to save on their claim costs.

It is also laernt that hospitals have been buying medicines at whole sale rates and were billing to the insurance companies at retail rates.This practice will also stop.

Any steps taken by the insurance industry to reduce the claim cost is welcomed.Let all of us support this initiative.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where to lodge your insurance related grievances?

Where to lodge your grievances?

Various options available with any consumer in India are to lodge complain

1. Grievance cell of Insurance Company (after pre empting your phone calls/ visits to their branch, which issued you the policy )
2. Insurance Ombudsman
3. Consumer Forum (at District level, State level and National level)
4. IRDA, which is the new addition.

We welcome the service started by IRDA(insurance regulatory and development authority. But the question before us is why we should have too many authorities for grievance resolutions.

Is it not the responsibility of the Insurance Company to provide service as a part of the product? Why they do not show the name of Grievance Officer, phone no/email on their website. Why they do not have online grievance lodging facility?

The consumers will like to have the data- how many cases lodged against the company in Consumer Forums? How many have been decided? How many have gone in favour of the insurance company and how many have gone against them?

Should there be a fee for lodging a complaint so that incomplete complaints are neither lodged nor received.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Doctors, not insurance cos & TPA’s will judge urgency of cases

Yes there may be time lag of 10 years in coming of the judgment but it is heartening to note that Maharashtra State Consumer disputes Redressal Commission has agreed that it is the doctor ,who has to decide whether it is emergency or not. It is good that this will not be for TPA’s to decide whether it is emergency or not.

It is interesting to note the observations

“An insurance company’s officials are not experts who can decide whether a particular case is of medical emergency or not, the Maharashtra State Consumer disputes Redressal Commission observed while ordering an insurance company to pay Mediclaim to a Versova resident. It is for the expert doctor in the field to give an opinion if this is case of medical emergency or not, the commission stated in its order. The case dated back to 2000. Shamim Khan was working as a schoolteacher in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was during a visit to India in July 2000 that she suffered unbearable stomach pain that led to severe bleeding.

She also experienced breathing problems and her haemoglobin levels began to drop considerably. Khan was admitted to Bombay Hospital immediately where an emergency surgery was conducted. She was discharged after eight days of stay in the hospital and, after incurring a total expenditure of Rs 41,158, Khan lodged a claim for insurance with the New India Assurance Company Limited from whom she had taken a policy. The policy was in force from April 2000 to March 2001.

Kahn’s claim was, however, rejected on the ground that there was no emergency need to undergo the operation” Aggrieved by the repudiation letter she filed a complaint in a district consumer forum, where the insurance company argued that “she (Khan) knew of the illness even before she came to India and had purchased the policy by suppressing material facts of her illness”, son it had the right to repudiated the in surer pleaded.

Khan had, however, procured a doctor’s certificate to the effect that there was an emergency situation and the doctor was required to operate on her to save her life.

Based on this document, the district forum on July 7, 2007, directed the insurance company to pay the medical claim and also Rs 5000 for causing mental harassment to Khan.

The insurance company then filed an appeal against the order in the state commission. But the state commission agreed with the district forum’s view, saying “doctor’s certificate proved beyond doubt that this was clearly a case of medical emergency”.

The commission, while up holding the order of the district forum, added that the insurance company had wrongly repudiated Khan’s claim.

The order- coming at a time when insurance firms are desperately trying to whittle down expenses on claims –will spread cheer among the insured, feel consumers; organizations.

The name of the insurance company was not mentioned in the news which appeared in a leading newspaper .If you know the name of the insurance company then do let us know.

While we respect and appreciate the judgment –it will be better if the fine imposed on such co is higher, because Rs 5000 is a negligible amount for large insurance companies.

Diabetes and BP can’t be cited to reject claim of health insurance claims

Our health insurance providers have used diabetes and hypertension as 2 holy words to reject the claims of insured persons. It is very interesting to read the following news in The Times of India on July 23, 2010

“In another blow to a medical insurer hell-bent on rejecting a policy holder's claims, a district consumer forum has decreed that a cardiac patient cannot be denied his insurance even if he has not mentioned hypertension and diabetes as pre-existing ailments.

"We have taken the view that, in a large number of cases, diseases like hypertension and diabetes are so common and are always controllable... (so) unless a patient undergoes a long treatment, including hospitalization and undergoes operation in the near proximity of taking the policy (sic), (s/he) cannot be accused of concealment of facts," the forum said, while asking the insurer to honour the policy holder's insurance claims and also pay him Rs. 5,000 as compensation for mental agony.

In 2003, Mulund-based Karunakar Shetty underwent a "coronary arteries bypass grafting" surgery and ran up a bill of Rs 2, 53,553. On July 17, 2003, he intimated Oriental Insurance Company Ltd Co and Raksha TPA. Shetty had taken a policy in 2000 for Rs 3 lakh but, while renewing it in 2002 and 2003, the amount was reduced to Rs 1.5 lakh.

In November 2003, Raksha TPA informed him that his claim was rejected as he was suffering from hypertension even before he took the policy and hid this from the insurance company. Shetty, however, contended that he did not suffer from hypertension before he took the policy and even sent a statement from his family doctor to the insurance company. But they did not reconsider their decision, prompting him to file a complaint in the forum citing deficiency in service.

The insurance company denied the allegations and said that in 2003, while renewing the policy, Shetty mentioned that he did not suffer from any pre-existing disease. It even stated that, when the papers were submitted, the third-party authority got documents from a hospital that said Shetty had told them he was suffering from diabetes for the past four years.

The insurance company alleged that the statement submitted by the family doctor was false and argued that the heart ailment that Shetty suffered from was closely related to diabetes and this was not covered by the policy.
The forum, while passing its order took into account, the hospital discharge card that Shetty had submitted following his treatment in July 2002. From the discharge card and the report submitted by the family doctor it was evident that Shetty was suffering from hypertension and diabetes and he got to know of it only in 2002.

The forum observed that Shetty was unaware of the disease when he took the policy in 2000 and, even if he did not mention it in 2003 while renewing the policy, hypertension and diabetes could not be called ‘pre-existing diseases.’

The forum then directed the insurance company and Raksha TPA to jointly or individually pay Rs 1.5 lakh (the insurance amount) with an interest of 6% from November 2003.”

We would have been happier to know the name of the Insurance company .If you know it then do let us know.

Learning from this case is that client was having complete medical file to fight the case and to prove his point to the consumer forum. We have always suggested to you to maintain your medical file.

Diabetes and BP have been the bottleneck in the growth of health insurance .With a view to follow this judgment in the spirit –why not take a liberal view and increase the number of insured by taking these 2 diseases as a way of life for us.

We honour the judgment and with due respect wish to state that 6 % is too low interest to be paid. This should be 12 % which all of us pay. In fact large insurance companies can pay more than this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

L&T General Insurance will also be dealing in Health Insurance

L&T General Insurance will become operational in Sep/Oct 2010 and will also be handling health insurance. It is good news as the market is growing and naturally we expect more players to come in.

This company is 100% Indian owned company and will be using TPA’s in the beginning.

According to sources this company will also be setting up its in house set up for handling health insurance claims and will ultimately stop use of TPA’s. We support good service to the clients whether it is provided through TPA’s or without TPA’s

Monday, July 12, 2010

You must check whether hospital is still on the list of insurance company for cashless settlement or even reimbursement

Yes our confidence is shaken .Many of you bought the policy after verifying the list of hospitals which were having empanelment with that insurance company.In between that is from July 1 some of these hospitals are removed from the list.
In Delhi /NCR the names are
Ganga Ram,

Check the list before starting any treatment.It is the best way to avoid surprise.

All PSU's will be using common TPA

We had covered in the past that KPMG was appointed by 4 PSU's to advise them about a common TPA with a view to protect their interests.

Yes it is going to happen.It may be 1 TPA to be selected by all of them so that they can give good service to them ( 4 PSu's).As it will be a good business therefore naturally all the instructions of PSU's will be followed.

Let us wait for many things to happen.With big hospitals being deleted - Is it going to be market segmentation where HNI's will start moving to private companies like Max Bupa /Apollo Munich .

Why the newspapers do not reveal the name of the hospital

The Times of India has carried the following news

"Twenty-eight-year-old Javed Akhtar, who was recently admitted to a private hospital, agrees with the TPAs. Last month, Akhtar, who works with a private firm in Noida, met with a minor accident and was admitted at a city hospital. He gave his cashless policy number to the hospital for necessary approval from the TPA. To his horror, he found that the hospital had applied for a spinal surgery and had got Rs 80,000 cleared from the TPA.

"The doctor never got any diagnostic tests like CT scan etc done. I was not even told about the surgery. They took the approval by forging my signature," alleged Akhtar, who later refused to get operated and got a police complaint registered against the hospital. But as he didn't get operated, the TPA refused to clear the bill. '

The question before us is that if the newspaper has carried the news( we appreciate this ) then why not reveal the name of the hospital so that all the insurance companies and TPA's as well as insured can keep the name of the hospital in mind- whether to go there or not.It will be agreat public service.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Should you be treated by the best doctor or a team of good doctors

Harvard Business Review in its April 2010 issue has covered health care in detail.After reading this and thinking over it for sometime we feel that it is better to be treated by a team of good doctors as it is ultimately the team effort in the hospital, which matters.

May be you will consider it while deciding which hospital to go for,when the need arises.

Another good point which emerges is do not waste time and money in going for second opinion as you will ultimately choose the one which suits you.Try to get both the doctors at the same time and let them discuss your case .It is a matter of life and death for you.

Prestigious hospitals have started moving out of PSU insurance companies approved list

The change is coming and PSU's have deleted some of the prestigious hospitals from the approved list of hospitals.

A question before us is -Is it applicable for group policies also or this is another decision only applicable to retail customers comprising of families.

You must recheck the names of hospitals not on the list of approved hospitals before buying or renewing the policy.