"Living with diabetes can still be sweet," reads the tag line of Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Limited, which has forayed into a virgin area in health insurance in India - the global diabetes capital. Star Health and ICICI Prudential Life Insurance are now breaking new ground in health insurance offering exclusive schemes for diabetics.
With the World Health Organisation projecting that 78 million Indians would suffer from diabetes by 2030, there is concern over the health spend of the people who are caught in a sedentary lifestyle web. One in eight adult Indians is already diabetic, which could lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, adult blindness and amputations.
Two years ago in an interview, the Chief Regional Manager (Chennai) of the National Insurance Company S Kalyanasundaram had dismissed the idea of insuring diabetics arguing: "Insurance can only work if the law of averages applies. There are too many people with diabetes."
Such hard positions meant that middle-class diabetics ended up spending a quarter or more of their income on medication and care. According to a study, the mean estimated total costs of diabetes in India were Rs.19914 per individual per annum.
Now that is set to change. Star Health's 'Diabetes Safe Insurance Policy' is exclusively designed for people diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus Type II. The policy, which covers those aged between 26 and 65 years, is available for Rs 50,000 to Rs 5,00,000. "The limit of 65 years is applicable only for initial entry into the scheme. Renewals will be accepted up to 70 years," a spokesperson for the company said.
Diabetes Safe provides cover for Diabetic Retinopathy requiring laser treatment; Diabetic Nephropathy leading to chronic renal failure; and Diabetic foot ulcer requiring micro-vascular surgical correction. The hospitalisation cover includes boarding and room charges at two per cent of the sum insured, surgeon's fees, consultant's fees and cost of medicines.
"The second kidney transplant following failure of the first transplant is also covered," she added. Besides non-insurance benefits like 24-hour help line for customers, cashless facility if the treatment is at any network hospital and free advice from a general physician come as value added services.
Likewise, 'Diabetes Care' from the ICICI staple provides critical illness insurance for Type 2 Diabetics and Pre-Diabetics for those in the age group of 25 to 60 years. The sum assured is Rs 3 lakh, 5 lakh and 10 lakh. "An unique feature of our scheme is that those who show good control over diabetes have to pay reduced premiums. The premium reduction will be made based on our Diabetes Check Index," a spokesperson said.
The company promises a lump sum payment on diagnosis of six critical illness - Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery, cancer, end stage renal failure, heart attack, major organ transplant (as a recipient) and stroke. "We would also sponsor the insured for three diagnostic tests and one annual consultation free," he said.
ICICI has also tie up some leading healthcare partners to offer products and services at concessional rates for insured diabetics.
Both the companies have excluded certain category of patients from the insurance cover. These include patients who have already developed complications of Diabetic Retinopathy and/or Diabetic Nephropathy leading to Chronic Renal failure and/or Diabetic foot Ulcer Expenses on treatment of Diabetes Mellitus Type II, or those with HIV/AIDS.