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Asian insurers respond to Covid-19

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The response of the Chinese National Medical Insurance Bureau to ensure those afflicted by COVID-19 have their costs met without delay will have calmed the nerves of an increasingly concerned population.

It decided upon a special reimbursement policy for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 so that necessary medicines and treatments would be covered in the payment of medical insurance funds.

This policy was to be swift, timely and to avoid the common delays associated with treatment outside the area of residence. This was to reduce the spread of infection by keeping patients close to where they were staying.

Finally, hospitals under centralised treatment programmes would have funds pre-paid to their medical insurance departments to reduce the pressure on the hospital’s cash flow and to remove those expenses from the balance sheet.

Insurers in China  – and other Asian markets – were swift to include the costs of coronavirus within their cover. Here we look at five of the products that have adapted to accommodate new risks since the start of the crisis.

1) Taiping

Taiping launched a new product that covers the loss of income associated with coronavirus. It also offers a real time situation monitor to identify new cases and response measures.

Cover is available for those between the ages of three and 55 years of age for a period of six months. The premium is 29.9 RMB and it offers the following protection:

Death due to respiratory related critical illness – 100,000 RMB

Death/total permanent disability due to coronavirus – 200,000 RMB

Respiratory critical illness – 10,000 RMB

Coronavirus confirmation – 20,000 RMB

2) Ping An Good Doctor

With annual fees ranging from 1,099 yuan to 7,999 yuan, users are entitled to online consultations, medical appointment services, health checks, discounts on medicines and accompanied hospital visit services for seniors.

The adult product starts at 1,099 yuan, though has been on discount lately, offers:

  • Full year private doctor group consultation service
  • 3 times yearly second consultation with a specialist
  • Special health membership benefits
  • Special discount area with up to a full year discount coupon
  • Appointment assistance three times a year

Child cover (normally 1,899 yuan, but also heavily discounted recently), offers similar benefits, plus:

  • Child development course (full year)
  • Child special benefits (medication benefits of six times 50 yuan discount, branded formula milk and additional vouchers).

Premium adult cover, also discounted recently, starts at 1,899 yuan and offers an additional body checkup/vouchers/health gift from a choice of three.

There is also a product for diabetics that offers an annual complication risk assessment, a quarterly customised personal diabetic control plan, a quarterly customised medication plan, quarterly diabetic food and drinks, sugar reduction exercise guidance and chronic disease doctor group consultation service (up to 52 times a year).

Customers also get a further 240 yuan voucher.

It includes a plan for seniors of up to three additional second consultations with a specialist, and complimentary cancer insurance, including cancer hospital stay once a year.

The platform, already China’s largest by registered users, took on 10 times more new registered users on average each day between January 22 and February 6, compared with the first 21 days of January.

Daily online consultations also increased by nine times on average over the same period, as the platform provided free online and telephone consultations to people concerned about catching COVID-19.

3) China Life

China Life extended coronavirus cover if the life insured is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a registered medical practitioner and they are placed under quarantine.

Once hospitalised, a lump sum payment of $800 is payable plus $130 per day for up to 60 days of being an inpatient.

In the case of the insured’s death, their family/estate will receive a lump-sum payment of $80,000.

4) Generali China

Within 72 hours, Generali China Insurance had developed and launched an SME package product with COVID-19 cover for Death & Disablement, Allowance Cash.

It was a partnership; with Nanyan InsurTech, and was designed to protect employees of SME businesses, which may not typically offer healthcare benefits.

5) AIA Singapore

Though not a mainland China insurer, AIA Singapore extended free additional coronavirus insurance coverage to protect individuals and their families from the virus.

All 1.4 million eligible customers, employees and tied representatives received automatic cover.

The special coverage includes a lump sum payment of S$1,000 for hospitalisation and $25,000 in the case of death as a result of contracting the coronavirus disease.


The rapid response of China’s InsurTechs to the threat of coronavirus is expected to drive new growth in the health insurance sector. Increased awareness of public health risks is also expected to lead to widespread interest in insurance.

From a national health perspective ultimately the number of those who will suffer the long term health effects of coronavirus are tiny compared to China’s larger problem of 120 million current chronic diabetics.

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