Stay healthy to stem rising insurance costs: Prudential CEO

The best way to lower healthcare costs is to stay healthy for as long as possible.
The best way to lower healthcare costs is to stay healthy for as long as possible.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

If local doctors are right about their patients' lifestyle habits, many Singaporeans aged 25 to 45 could be in for a rough ride later in life.

These folks tend to not exercise regularly, have poor eating habits and drink a bit too much, thus raising the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, noted a recent survey by Prudential Singapore.

The insurer wants to encourage as many people as possible to age healthily and postpone the onset of chronic diseases.

Chief executive Dennis Tan believes that this is probably the most effective way to stem the rising cost of health insurance, which is a source of concern for many Singaporeans.

He says: "Prevention is key to protection and preventive healthcare is key to helping people stay healthy and fit in the long run.

"If our customers are healthy, we, as a business, are healthy too."

While nobody enjoys filing claims, insurers have become a negative touch point of sorts for families when someone is hospitalised or dies.

Prudential hopes to take a more proactive approach by encouraging its customers to focus on their health and wellness early so that they are not burdened by increasing healthcare costs.

This is why the company remains the only insurer with a claim-based pricing approach for healthcare policies.

Much like the no-claim bonuses that accident-free motorists enjoy when they renew their motor insurance, Prudential rewards healthy policyholders by giving them a 20 per cent discount on their premium at the next renewal.

But this does not mean that the premium will shoot up when there is a claim; each claim is assessed based on its quantum as well as whether the treatment is sought at the company's approved panel of hospitals.

These include selected private hospitals such as Raffles and Mount Alvernia, as well as all government hospitals.

Mr Tan believes that working closely with Prudential's healthcare partners is a cost-effective way of passing on savings to customers, keeping their premiums lower.

Of course, the best way to lower healthcare costs is to stay healthy for as long as possible.

This is why Prudential took the unusual step of going ahead with the launch of its Pulse app in April, during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period.

The artificial intelligence-powered app provides users with round-the-clock access to healthcare services and real-time health information without them having to pay a subscription fee.

"By enabling people to make informed choices and early lifestyle interventions, we can help prevent, protect and postpone the onset of costly and debilitating diseases," Mr Tan says.

He adds that there are plans to get more wellness and healthcare-related partners on board so that a fitness ecosystem can be built to benefit more people.

"With Pulse, we are leveraging health technology to help people live well for longer," he says, noting that the app will eventually evolve to become an all-in-one service that addresses health, wealth and business.