Covid policy adjustment to help isolating patients

Covid policy adjustment to help isolating patients

New Covid-19 insurance products are being developed by Thai insurers to cover patients taking part in the Public Health Ministry's home and community isolation scheme, according to a government regulator.

The move is part of the Office of the Insurance Commission's (OIC) attempt to protect consumers, following the regulator banning insurers from cancelling Covid-19 insurance with a lump-sum payment, according to OIC secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn.

The new products were discussed last Friday night at a meeting between the Thai General Insurance Association and Thai Life Assurance Association.

"In the long term, we should have insurance products that cover home and community isolation for a broader range of medical care," said Mr Suthiphon.

He said the products are being discussed and the OIC could play a part in designing them if insurers refuse to do so because they deem the risk to be too high.

Current Covid-19 insurance policies do not cover patients under the home isolation scheme, Mr Suthiphon said.

Before the new products are developed and launched, the OIC ordered insurers to expand the coverage of existing products, effective until Sept 30, to cover patients under the isolation scheme.

This should help ease the growing strain on bed capacity and frontline health workers at local hospitals as Thailand struggles with the third wave of the outbreak.

He said the order does not create additional payment conditions for insurance companies. Conditions will be reinterpreted to extend protection to patients who need to be hospitalised, but are unable to find a medical facility, said Mr Suthiphon.

Payments for claims will be based on actual medical expenses, but not more than the amount specified in the insurance policy in the case of daily compensation, he said. Daily compensation will be paid only to patients who need hospital care but are unable to be admitted, as determined by the diagnosing doctor.

From Jan 1 to July 15, the accumulated value of Covid-19 insurance claims stood at 2.50 billion baht, or about 50% of the 5.14 billion in total premiums paid.

Mr Suthiphon said the surging numbers of Covid-19 patients and claimants may affect some insurance companies, but the overall outlook for the industry is stable and expected to return to normal if the situation improves in the fourth quarter. He said if the pandemic continues until next year, the industry's capital reserves would be sufficient, based on stress tests.

"Covid insurance products will remain, but their features, conditions and premiums should be adjusted in accordance to the situation," said Mr Suthiphon.

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