Monday, August 13, 2018

Health Insurance Policy for Senior Citizens in India:Is it a System to Rob the Hapless?

Is health insurance or the so-called medical insurance service as being provided in India now, a system for providing a justified social security to its policy holders or a system to entice and loot the hapless people in a clandestine manner?

There are several reasons for me to have this doubt in my mind. Perhaps, I am not alone  thinking this way. Anyone who has been genuinely taking medical insurance until he or she came across the misfortune of claiming the insured amount from the insurers would likely have this doubt.

Those who are very concerned of having a genuine medical insurance are the senior citizens or the people who have retired from active service. They are entering the old age phase of life where incomes and health both are in a declining trend. Perhaps they are the ones who need medical insurance the most as a measure of social security. Unfortunately, they are the least preferred by the very same medical insurance companies who have been allowed to enter in to this very 'restrictive' or 'statutorily controlled' insurance service business in the guise of covering an important aspect of social security.

The words 'restrictive' and 'statutorily controlled' are very important to be noted. The Indian political leadership across all political mindsets had been against the private players entering in to the insurance business of all types for several decades ever since India got independence. Hence the Indian government never allowed any private players in this business other than the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation, the two public sector mammoths fully controlled by the government of India for almost half a century.

Why didn't they allow the private players when there existed several private insurance companies in the developed nations? None gave any fully justified answer for this. The explanation was that the Indian politicians are of the socialistic mindset deriving their political learning from the teachings of communism and socialism and capitalism was a political taboo.

But with the fall and split of the communist bloc nations led by the erstwhile USSR, we had seen a worldwide reversal of political thinking that resulted in making the hardcore communists to become apostles of capitalism and free market economy.

India had been a safe player always and therefore it remained that way even after the major changes in international politics and economic shakeups. No doubt it too moved to the capitalistic way but in a manner that confused everyone. It was the great Indian trade and business game for the political and bureaucratic opportunists to make quick personal gains. India adopted the licensed free market economic system while retaining many of the government owned businesses in an objective less manner. The government owned companies have been removed from governmental financial supports and allowed to function independently competing with their private competitors. However, the government did not ensure to give them enough freedom as that was available to their privately owned competitors.

Naturally in India, a peculiar situation arose. It was now an economy with free market objectives where both private players with greater freedom of operations functioned side by side with government owned businesses with several functional restrictions.

The efforts by various governments to come out from the controlling ownership of public sector businesses in reality did not meet any serious objections from any front except some lukewarm protests here and there. Yet, the governments have been doing the privatization process in a very arbitrary manner failing to meet their declared objectives always.

This kind of a situation allowed crony capitalism to take deep roots in the Indian soil. Several private business groups grew many folds and became bigger than several large public sectors of the past.

It has led to the development of governmental favoritism and the era of 'scams' started with corruption and inefficiency synonymous with India and all that is Indian. India ceased to become the ideal democratic nation of truth , non-violence and justice that was originally conceptualized by erstwhile world renowned Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi. 
The era of political opportunism with the sole purpose of personal gains began to grow in this land of Mahatma Gandhi. When political leaders became that way, the Indian bureaucracy too began to rot making it a large and complex system of government servants functioning in various styles and purposes in the most unpredictable and inconsistent manner.

Thus India has now become a unique nation in the whole world with a unique style of functioning: the Indian system of arbitrary governance. In this system any or all rules keep changing from time to time and could be interpreted according to the whims and fancies of the so called authorities!

Indian courts too became entangled in this great system of Indian governance that every now and then they kept reversing their own judgments! 

So what was the reason for the Indian politicians to oppose any private players to set up an insurance business? Why was insurance a sector that was still maintained as one with too much political and governmental controls? Is it for safeguarding the public or something else?

In my considered view, the business of insurance is a great money spinner for those who are allowed to do this business. It is like all other controlled businesses like sale of alcoholic beverages, sale of petroleum products, transport business, telecom business, etc.

The government controls in these businesses are mainly kept not only for gaining a huge revenue for the government coffers, but also for making huge ill-earned black moneys for those individuals who happen to be part of the governmental control system.

Such a system is also prone to make huge losses as well. It is like the game of gambling. In India, businesses are now routinely considered a big game of gamble. It is no more a system of doing a good service to the society availing a reasonable profit. It is a system of making landslide profits under the protection or licence of government to such times that it can.

I often wonder and ask to myself: Why do my fellow country men always be so selfish and self centered? Why are they so hesitant to extent any good to their fellow beings?

I have no answer. How can you expect goodness when evil has taken predominance for whatever reasons?

So in short, health insurance in India now is in the hands of evil doers under evil protection. But evil never has a prolonged victory. Its success is short lived.

No business that violate the fundamentals of human service and justice will sustain for long. That is a universal truth.

Evil infested men and women are clever and intelligent. They only lack wisdom! They know that evil systems can not go endlessly. But evil people, inherently are suicidal. Individually they make their lives miserable at some point of time for themselves only to be replaced by others with potential evilness!

Health insurance business, as with all other businesses, can be managed well making a win-win situation for all players, the government, the company investors, the company directors, their employees and their individual clients. There is no question of this business making any unjustifiable loss to any one, provided the business is carried forward in a justifiable and efficient manner without evil objectives.

Once they do that, it would be of great help to everyone.

But who will take the lead? Will evil control itself?

Then India would probably does not even need the so-called 'Insurance Regulatory Development Authority' the autocratic system that keeps playing a role with no character or compassion to the people.

One thing must be essentially understood in the business of insurance. Insurance is not taking individuals' money and returning a part of the lump sum at some other time of distress or need.

Insurance works on the principle of collective strength of pooling resources and the universal truth of dilution of individual distress when there are many to share the load.

Insurance companies are for doing the service of resource collection, management and re-distribution. But when they do this management with no competency and honesty then they degrade as looters and not any social security service providers. When that happens their business too would become non sustainable!

Will they ever realize this?

Health insurance is no exception. In reality all insurance business in India as of now are means of making profits for the licensed insurance companies. Vehicle insurance is a typical case. Its premiums are sky-rocketing in India every year to such an extent that people are no more interested in taking comprehensive vehicle insurance except those forced upon them by the government.

When insurance business was a state controlled one, there were only the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation in India in this field. In those days, these companies owned by the government did very good service through their agents for collecting the premiums and providing the insurance documents to the people. Their premiums used to be affordable. But their 'after-sales-services' used to be extremely poor. They seldom paid the insured sums during the times of need, without harassing the insured or their heirs. This has caused these state corporations accumulating huge funds. They too tried greedily to make money but never realized the purpose of insurance-helping people while in distress!

The entry of private players were allowed to bring competition in insurance services and to curtail the public sector monopoly.

But these private companies too, unfortunately forgot their essential objective of doing affordable insurance service. No doubt, competition in insurance business enhanced. However, that competition has been during the time of collection of premium and not for the time of providing the monetary support at the time of needs.

Now all insurance companies in India, both in the public and private domains, keep doing all they can to fool the public and make as much money they can from the gullible public. The unfair practices they adopt has caused huge rise in unfair claims and consequently the insurance sector has degraded to an arena of unfair business.

When it has degraded to an unfair business area, the government brought in the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority which in turn has done more damage than any correction.

Unfair business practices are on the rise in this country. Corruption is now accepted as a way of life. 

When will we realize our follies? When will be able to eradicate our greed arising out of fear of the unknown?

Only then we can expect a society where businesses like insurance doing a helping hand to the people at large while they carry out their services without making losses.

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