Picture this. If someone you knew was recently admitted to hospital and the cardiac surgeon advised an open heart surgery, but thanks to remote medical assistance, the person was able to get a second opinion from a renowned surgeon who said there is no need to immediately rush into one, not only have you benefited from it, so has your insurer.
Insurers are seeing more value of providing coverage for second opinion service as part of their health insurance offering.
United India Insurance has revised its family floater offering to include insurance coverage for second opinion. "Today there are many specialists available worldwide and if the second specialist says that a surgery is unwarranted, not only does it help the customer, but it also leads to better claims experience and management from the insurance standpoint, "Milind Kharat, CMD, United India Insurance said.
Similarly, Apollo Munich is also providing for second opinion coverage under some of its plans. Insurers' state that a second medical opinion is most sought after in case of major ailments such as kidney failure, heart attacks or in case of a major organ transplant. "Our research shows that for major illness, when customers are recommended a line of treatment by a specialist, they often feel the necessity to consult another expert. Second opinion coverage addresses this need, "Anthony Jacob, CEO, Apollo Munich Health Insurance said.
Though it's early days yet but the rapid corporatization and subsequent commercialization of the healthcare sector in India has resulted in some erosion of trust of the primary healthcare provider. "Sometimes, the treating physician may not be aware of the latest advances in medicine. Or, sometimes suggest surgery where none may be required, "Dr Debraj Shome, co-founder and director of second opinion consultancy, MediAngels said. Shome goes on to illustrate his point by an article published by Lancet in 2009. "This article demonstrated that 85% patients who underwent an invasive procedure, would want to take a second opinion if they could, "Shome said.
More importantly, the market for second opinion is also slowly getting organized with companies like MediAngels bringing in 350 specialists and super specialists from 15 countries under one platform to deliver second opinion service. "Our pool of doctors is 'by invitation' only to ensure top quality consultation," Shome said.
Some insurers are providing second opinion as part of their value added services to customers.
Bajaj Allianz General Insurance has tied up with three second opinion service providers under which its customers would only have to quote their health card number to avail the service free of cost. The company launched a second opinion cover almost seven years back but later withdrew it due to lack of demand.