Between the priority of health insurance and its high cost, the Lebanese citizen stands at a loss and chooses between deducting food expenses to insure his health, or leaving it “divine” without health insurance because of its cost, which is no longer within the reach of many.
While the prices of all commodities are rising and with the dollarization towards which Lebanon is moving, the prices of insurance contracts are also rising, albeit in fresh dollars, for many reasons. The shock in the number of Lebanese insured in insurance companies, amounting to only 400,000 individuals, which indicates a catastrophe in light of the decline in the coverage of the guarantors that still depend on the exchange rate of 1,500 pounds.
Alex, a father of a family consisting of a wife and a child, tells An-Nahar that the insurance policy he bought imposes on him a certain number of hospitals that he and his family can go to for treatment. Coincidentally, when his wife’s due date approached, she had to change her doctor, who was working in a hospital that was not approved by the insurance company, as it was one of the most expensive hospitals in Beirut. However, since Alex paid the policy in full fresh dollars, he did not face any problem in terms of coverage, and he paid 2,600 fresh dollars to insure him and his family for a year, which “is not a small amount for me.”
In his opinion, “health insurance has become one of the main priorities because of what we see and hear in hospitals and the high bill for hospitalization, especially with the presence of a child at home,” Alex recounts. Although paying this amount at the beginning of the year was never easy for him, he preferred it over many other expenses in order to protect himself and his family. When he bought his policy last year, there was no payment facility from the insurance company.
As for Rima, she narrates that she lives “on the Almighty,” and she is neither trustworthy nor insured. Two months ago, she tried to find insurance companies that would give her an acceptable offer for an insurance policy to insure her mother, who is over 50 years old, because she has become more vulnerable to disease. After contacting two companies, Rima lost hope of finding reasonable prices. The lowest policy starts at $800 and does not include all coverages, services and hospitals. “The sums required by the insurance companies for the policies are really exorbitant and cannot be paid in light of the current crisis,” says Rima. Even to find a suitable offer for her when she was 30 years old, the price did not differ much from $800.
In addition, Mira, a young woman from a family of 5, speaks. Her father is over 70 years old, her mother is 60 years old, she and her sister are 30 years old, and her younger sister is 23 years old. It is known that the age criterion in insurance policies is a basic criterion for determining the policy price, because the older a person is, the higher the cost of his health insurance. Therefore, the total health insurance for this family in a private insurance company is about $11,300.
How has the Lebanese insurance pattern changed?
So, these are samples of some Lebanese and their health insurance status. But what do insurance companies say about policy prices, payment facilities, and customer demand? The financial crisis prompted people to change or waive their insurance pattern by changing some coverages or degrees of hospitalization and adopting a mini-style of other insurance products in line with the budget and need of each individual. But at the same time, it made some people turn to insurance companies to compensate for the lack of state hospital services such as social security, the Ministry of Health and state cooperatives. This is confirmed by the director of health and life in the company. Arope Insurance, George Mahfoud told An-Nahar. The citizen prefers to pay his money to the insurance companies instead of paying it as a difference to the hospitalization bill through the guarantee.
Mahfoud notes an increase in the demand for insurance for elderly people who were insured by guarantors in the public sector, and today they resort to buying new insurance policies. However, companies face difficulty in accepting new insurance contracts for elderly people suffering from chronic diseases and undergoing treatment. The percentage of people who renewed their insurance policies in the company is still roughly the same compared to previous years, according to Mahfoud. In addition, whoever was insured on the social security difference canceled it and stayed on the insurance only to reduce useless financial burdens.
While the company has reduced health insurance premiums by about 25 percent since converting them into fresh dollars, compared to the period preceding the crisis, according to Mahfouz’s explanation, prices may rise again as a result of the high prices in general. In this context, the company increased the margin of facilities in the payment of policy premiums and introduced simplified health insurance programs with less coverage (Basic) to meet the market need.
In the same vein, still Hospital coverage Same as before the crisis in the company Fidelity The percentage of policies that are renewed is higher than expected after the crisis, according to the vice president of the health unit in the company, Adel Kharrat. With the deterioration of the crisis, Kharrat says that the expectations for the renewal rate were 70 percent, but it has returned to 90 percent so far. In addition, 50 percent of the new policies in the company are for people who did not have fixed insurance, and the vast majority of them were dependent on health insurance in the public sector, as they pay 95 percent of the hospitalization bill on the insurance and the insurance coverage does not reach 10 percent. . These customers are divided into a category of people with advanced ages and medical conditions, and a category of those who are forced to hospitalize and no longer have any insurance.
According to Kharrat, the company provides payment facilities with a first payment and four subsequent installments. The installment facility has now decreased due to the high estimates of customers’ inability to pay the policy expenses in light of the current crisis, in addition to the fact that hospitals are restricting insurance companies and do not provide facilities as in the past. Regardless of the customer’s health status, age, degree of hospitalization, required services and coverage, all of which are factors that greatly affect the price of the policy in general, the price of the basic policy rises in line with the price of services in hospitals today. Currently, “in Lebanon, the cost of insurance contracts returns to what it was before the crisis,” according to Kharrat.
Kharrat confirms that insurance companies have always had, since before the crisis, different products for different insurance services, but “the Lebanese have never resorted to anything but luxury insurance policies.”full option“.
Only 400,000 Lebanese have health insurance…
The head of the Insurance Companies Association, Asaad Mirza, told An-Nahar: That “the demand for health insurance in private insurance companies has not increased, as a large segment of the Lebanese cannot afford to pay policies with fresh, while all insurance policies have become fresh. In addition, hospitals require payment of their bills with fresh food, as well as insurance preparers.”
Mirza adds, “Many of those who were customers of the first-class policy are now switching to the second-class because of their financial inability. It can be said that the number of people affiliated with insurance companies for hospitalization is the same and has decreased by a degree. Since the beginning of the crisis until now, the demand for insurance policies has decreased.” About 10 to 15 percent.
Likewise, the prices of insurance contracts will rise, as hospitals have raised this percentage, along with doctors who ask for an increase in their prescriptions. So, insurance companies will start raising their rates by around 10 to 12 percent, Mirza explains. The reason for this increase, although the policies are in fresh dollars, is the increase imposed by all parties involved in hospitalization on insurance companies.
Regarding corporate coverage, he confirms that all corporate coverages are similar, albeit slightly different. And insurance companies facilitate as much as possible, but there are payments to insurance preparers abroad that cannot be reduced and are all in fresh dollars, but the conditions of the Lebanese who go to insurance companies to facilitate them are definitely being considered.
According to Mirza, there are 400,000 health-insured individuals in private insurance companies, compared to 1,700,000 people in public guarantors. These numbers are really shocking because the public hospital authorities are still paying at the price of 1,500 pounds, and it is no longer worth anything in the hospital bills today, with the insane rise of the dollar. And the number 400,000 is a number that is not equal to a quarter of the population of Lebanon.
Mirza expects a turnout of insurance companies, because hospitalization in the current circumstances is a “destroyer of homes,” and the most important thing the Lebanese think about today is medicine and food for his children.
And while the prices of insurance policies vary between companies, and while these prices are on the way to an increase, an insurance company we spoke with mentioned the following approximate prices. If we take a second-class insurance policy that is limited to hospitalization without paying the guarantee difference, with the possibility of benefiting from the entire hospital network, the policy for a family consisting of a 45-year-old father, a 36-year-old mother, and a 15-year-old son starts at $1,600. Within the same conditions for a family where the father is 58 years old, the mother is 52 years old, and the son is 25 years old, the insurance policy starts at $ 2,500 annually.