It's time for Health Assurance in India

Amrit Singh

The tipping point

India's healthcare infrastructure has quietly been failing us for decades. While other nations are moving forward, India remains stagnant or even regresses. The average lifespan in India is 69 years, which is terribly low compared to other Asian countries. For example, citizens of Japan live 84 yrs on average, an additional 15 years of life per person.

The other health statistics on India paint a grim picture: we have over 100 million diabetics, the highest number of cardiovascular disease cases in the world, a shortage of doctors, and a scarcity of hospital beds (just 5 beds per 10,000 people). Producers stuff our food with processed chemicals, sugars, and trans fats with little consequences because consumer awareness is low.

Structural limitations

India's healthcare system suffers from systemic issues that are hard to change. The limited number of doctors and hospital beds leads to inadequate care for the vast population. But more importantly, the dominant business model of the healthcare system discourages doctors from focusing on long-term health improvement for patients.

It’s a classic case of “Show me the incentive, and I’ll show you the outcome.” Doctors are paid for the number of procedures they perform, not for the health outcomes of their patients. This leads to a focus on treatment rather than prevention, and it leaves many people without the preventive care they need to get ahead of sickness.

A new approach

The answer is not more of the same. To fix these massive problems requires a radical rethinking of how we approach healthcare. It requires creating a new system altogether which realigns the financial incentives for hospitals and uses technology to make world-class primary care more readily available.

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Health Assurance

At Loop, we’re calling this new system Health Assurance. Health Assurance is more than just insurance. With insurance, you pay a premium in case you need critical medical care. With Health Assurance, you pay a premium for the assurance of good health and to have support along your entire care journey.

Health assurance not only provides financial coverage for major medical treatment but also gives you access to preventive care, wellness programs, and chronic disease management. Think of health assurance as an insurance plan that doesn't just react to disease, but tries to prevent disease altogether.

This approach requires several key elements:

Correct the Incentives: By paying doctors for health outcomes rather than the number of procedures they complete, we can encourage a focus on long-term wellness.

Technology to Scale Care: We can use telemedicine to reach more people, provide them continuous care, and help them make better lifestyle choices.

Preventive care: A focus on early intervention to manage conditions rather than waiting on a critical illness to develop will improve overall health and minimize costs.

Data that Informs: Gathering more health data enables early disease detection and more personalized care. This includes data on your vitals over many years, family health history, genetic profile, etc. More data means a higher likelihood of a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. It also sets the stage for high quality AI-based care in the future.

What does a world with Health Assurance look like?

Imagine if your cardiologist had access to the live heart rate data on your wearable. Or that your family endocrinologist was notified every time your diabetic parent had a major glycemic irregularity. Or what if your nutritionist checked in on you every week proactively? And what if you could get lab tests every year for free through your insurance plan?

This is all possible, with the correct alignment of incentives, data, and care protocols.

Why now?

We cannot wait any longer. We must recognize our infrastructure is not getting the job done, in fact it’s literally costing us each years of our lives. We must commit to rebuilding a more effective system aligned to extending the lifespans of more than 1 billion people. This is a massive vision, and one we recognize that we cannot fulfill alone.

Fortunately, the building blocks are in place. There is enough scientific literature to effectively personalize nutrition, wellness, and medical advice based on an individual’s lifestyle and genetic profile. The lowering cost of sensors, increased insurance coverage, and a rising awareness of health (evidenced by the emergence of companies like Ultrahuman and Cultfit) make this the right moment to build Health Assurance for India.

If we can move the needle on these inputs to generate more data, we can also build algorithms that detect disease early and nudge patients to make better daily lifestyle choices. We can inform doctors to make better decisions and keep them focused on long term health outcomes.

It's no longer science fiction. It is possible and it’s happening in other countries around the world. It's time for India to step up and embrace a new era of healthcare. With the right execution we can potentially add fifteen years to each Indian’s life.

Our country's foundation and progress have been shaped by the act of building. The generations before us laid down roads and railways, established farms and industries, and innovated with the deployment of computers, pharmaceuticals, low-cost internet, and innumerable other technologies that have become integral to our daily existence.

These accomplishments not only define our lives but also contribute to our overall well-being. To pay tribute to their enduring legacy and to pave the way for the future we envision for our children and grandchildren, we must continue the tradition of building something that makes the lives of all Indians better. This manifesto is a call to all organizations, legislators, and startup founders- let’s build Health Assurance together.

A couple riding a bike is ensured by their health insurance