No disease has captured the satirical imagination of modern India like Dengue.
It has been used in popular songs “Sone ki Chidiya, Dengue, Malaria” From the motion picture Shanghai, used in dialogues in movies and provide good content to the budding stand up comics that have mushroomed all over India of late.
Five decades ago, the dengue fever was known to just about a handful of nations. Today it is a deadly endemic that has enveloped more than 120 countries. In 2016, there was an abnormal surge in dengue inflicting over one lakh people pan India and the numbers this year have already crossed 11,000. The unreported numbers run in millions. Like every coin has two sides, advancements in various fields have arguably been one of the major causes of this rampant disease.
Transport networks that knit our world together have spread the mosquito across the globe and the explosion in urban living over the same period has ensured breeding grounds for them. Over the last few decades the rate of infection has increased 30 fold, say world experts on dengue. Dengue will continue to spread out across the world owing to the intensifying temperatures.
During dengue season in India, unavailability of hospital beds has become a serious concern over the last few years. Most people get hospitalised because of dengue scare resulting in a stress and panic situation. Very few people are aware of the fact that dengue patients need hospitalization only in extreme cases; by and large only supportive treatment at home is sufficient. People prefer hospitalization partially because home-care is not covered under the conventional health insurance plans.
Do you know that the economic burden inflicted by only dengue fever on India is a whopping $1.11 billion a year? Now, that’s a huge sum we’re looking at and who is going to finance it? Existing health insurance plans cover dengue but alarmingly only 4-5% of the Indian population have bought health insurance policies thus adding an immense burden on out-of-pocket expenditure.
Gap in healthcare financing for Dengue
Existing health insurance plans do cover dengue but only 4-5% of the Indian population has health insurance. Hence, there is an immense burden on out-of-pocket expenditure.
Home care and OPD expenses for dengue are not covered by any health insurance plan.
Premium of conventional health insurance plans is age sensitive and requires medical underwriting.
A large population of the country cannot afford to have a full-fledged health insurance cover. However, economical health insurance plans that cover tropical diseases like dengue can encourage such consumers to get their family and themselves insured for specific needs.
Apollo Munich’s Dengue Care
Bridging this gap, for the first time in India, Apollo Munich launched Dengue Care – an Over the Counter (OTC) standalone health insurance for the most widespread infectious disease, dengue fever. Dengue Care provides a standalone cover for dengue and that too at a surprisingly affordable cost of Rs 444 for a sum insured of Rs 50,000 and Rs 578 for a sum insured of Rs 1,00,000. It also provides coverage of Rs 10,000 for home care and outpatient expense like diagnostic tests, doctor consultation, home nursing and pharmacy, something that no other insurer offers.
Furthermore, premium of conventional health insurance plans is age sensitive and require medical underwriting, whereas Dengue Care comes at a flat premium for all ages and requires no underwriting. Unlike many health insurance policies, the waiting period of this plan is a mere 15 days. Another great feature of this policy is that there are no prior medical examinations required to avail it, regardless of age. People of all ages, gender and health conditions can buy this plan including those who have been rejected for traditional health insurance policies. To know more about Dengue Care, visit the link.
The dengue virus spreads and develops at a rapid rate, barely leaving time to protect oneself from the onslaught. So choosing a financial protection tool to protect yourself from issues that may arise later is your safest bet.
About the author
Antony Jacob spearheads Apollo Munich Health Insurance towards achieving the aim of Uncomplicating health insurance for its stakeholders. As CEO, Antony has been steering the company up the growth ladder since April 2009. Being among the first employees of the health insurance sector, he brings enormous knowledge and vast expertise to the organization, besides enthusiasm and professional exposure in other sectors.
Before joining Apollo Munich in 2009, Antony was a Regional Finance Director, Asia & Middle East, based in Dubai, for the RSA Group. Between 2004 and 2007, Antony was the Managing Director of Royal Sundaram Insurance in Chennai, a company he was involved with right from its inception.Born in Chennai, Antony is a Chartered Accountant, besides being a graduate from Loyola College, Chennai.
India is perhaps the only country in the world (of its size) where addressing preventable diseases continues to drain public resources. The Delhi dengue outbreak is a case in point. This is the third or fourth time in a decade (the first being in 2006) that the city has failed to prevent the spread of this disease. Close to 3,500 cases of dengue have been reported in Delhi over the last month, of which nearly all cases required hospitalization.
Urbanization is the next shift in the history of human civilization.
If experts are to be believed more than 60 % of the human population would be living in mega cities by 2050. This would call for massive investments in process, technology, infrastructure and people. It would also call for a re-look at how healthcare is being delivered today.
One of the key factors that has changed due to urbanization in India is the disease pattern.
For a country that for long relying on Agriculture, the disease pattern was mostly consisted of acute communicable diseases. Malaria, Cholera and Typhoid for long haunted India. The tropical climate, the heat waves, the lack of proper sanitation in the hinterland was the main elements contributing to this situation.
But not anymore.
India today is plagued by typical urban diseases like TB, Hypertension and Diabetes. These are a direct result in the change in our life style without a change in the diet.
Let me give you an example. A good friend of mine is very fond of ghee. He used to tell me how his grandfather used to consume a few kilos of ghee every month, in the form of ladoos, on Rotis and sometimes even raw. He lived to the ripe old age of 94. So genetically there was nothing wrong with the diet. But what he neglected was the fact that his grandfather was a farmer and he used to walk 10 kilometers daily. That was the distance between his field and home. His grandfather did not even posses a cycle leave alone a car and worked daily from 5 in the morning till 5 in the evening in the fields. His work also involved crouching for hours, lifting hay sacks, plugging fields and manually harvesting the crops.
My friend has a different life. Wakes up at 8 in the morning and hits the gym for 30 minutes. He then gets into his car and drives to work. At work his only exercise is hitting the key board a few million times in the day.
Needless to say my friend in diabetic and has been recently told to stay off ghee for his own well being.
Technology and urbanization are good, but also require a change in diet. We need to change the diet in order to counter the changes due to urbanization. The lack of this awareness is causing a change in the disease pattern.
In the next post I will discuss the implications that urbanization has on diseases like malaria and dengue…