The traditional role of life insurers is to deliver financial planning products in addition to protection that reduces the need for large amounts of liquid assets. However, the convergence of life with health insurance is pushing insurers to bolster their traditional products with related offerings such as preventative healthcare and O2O services.
These frontiers are particularly daunting as the required skill sets often lie outside insurers’ core actuarial and marketing functions. Considering this, and the fact that Asia is disproportionately affected by chronic diseases, several startups are supporting the incumbent efforts to upgrade their offerings by offering a three-pronged approach that includes medical devices, combined with educational content about the symptoms of chronic diseases. One of these is Shenzhen based Kaopubao which manufactures a range of medical devices which it then provides to life insurers which, in addition to accompanying data, is used to develop tailored insurance for diabetics, women, and those at risk from cardiovascular disease.
Use Case 1:
China has 120 million diabetics, many of whom are undiagnosed and a significant share of the remainder are unconcerned with symptoms that are relatively benign in the short term.
To address this, Kaopubao has developed a WeChat based diabetes management portal that allows users to assess their blood/glucose levels, in addition to monitor their insulin dosage levels by way of an insulin pen.
Working with several life insurers, Kaopubao’s blood/glucose monitor allows diabetics to track blood glucose levels in addition to providing real-time updates to users about their insulin dosages and blood glucose levels by way of an accompanying app.
As 80% of costs related to diabetes stem from mismanagement of the disease as opposed to inevitable symptoms, the active use of Kaopubao’s blood glucose monitor allows partner life insurers to offer reduced premiums to diabetics in return for routine engagement with Kaopubao’s devices.
Kaopubao is also working with state-owned life insurers to tackle an even more deep seated issue that is worsening the effect of chronic diseases in China. By educating users about the symptoms of type 1 diabetes in addition to the features of life and health insurance. Kaopubao also provides online services to diabetics through its app that remind diabetics about appropriate lifestyle behaviours in addition to recording insulin dosage levels.
Use Case 2:
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of premature death in China. A dramatic shift from a traditional to a more ‘western’ diet and lifestyle and rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have contributed to the jump in cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. Considering this, and the costs for insurers, Kaopubao has developed an intelligent heart rate monitor and abnormal intervention service by way of an app in order to educate policyholders about dietary and lifestyle choices.
In this case, Kaopubao provides term life and first aid cost insurance in case of cardiac hospitalisation and in addition to the core education journey.
Use Case 3:
Although breast cancer has an 83% survival rate, early detection is key to minimising costs for insurers. Kaopubao has developed another WeChat based educational journey that promotes early screening for breast cancer coupled with breast cancer insurance. Kaopubao also co-manufactures a breast screening device, which it provides to medical centres in tier two cities, further enabling its partner life insurers to combine traditional critical illness coverage with preventative healthcare services.
Heavy industry and rapidly changing lifestyles have led to an acceleration in chronic diseases across China. In each these cases, Kaopubao defined the use case, co-manufactured the medical device, and assisted in the design of the insurance service package together with partners that include insurers, TPAs and hospitals. Although insurers can also develop in-house capabilities to upgrade their currently commoditised products lines, partnerships such as those that Kaopubao is forging offer life insurers a route into healthcare that extends beyond simple app based reporting, and into product development for specific market segments.