MUMBAI: Even as Covid hospitalisations have dropped from peak levels, insurance companies are witnessing a massive surge in non-Covid claims. While there is a lag in capturing trends, insurers say that there has been a significant jump from September in non-Covid hospitalisations.
“We are seeing an increase in hospitalisations due to dengue, respiratory diseases and other non-Covid claims. The size of these claims has also gone up, perhaps due to the additional protection that has to be taken by hospitals. We will watch this to see whether the increase is temporal or structural,” said ICICI Lombard General Insurance MD & CEO Bhargav Dasgupta, following the company’s results.
Policybazaar, one of the largest distributors of individual health covers, has been seeing an increase in the number of non-Covid calls. The calls are for infectious diseases, dengue and other viral fever. “We are also seeing an increase in accidental injuries,” said Amit Chabra, chief of health business at Policybazaar.
According to Dr Dev Pahlajani, head of interventional cardiology at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, incidences of acute coronary syndrome, sudden heart attacks and cardiac arrest have gone up 40% in the last six to eight months. “There is a surge in circulatory conditions which warrants a close evaluation,” he said.
He added that even patients who have been stable for years are coming in with acute heart emergencies. The trend is visible in most cardiac departments, he said.
According to Niva Bupa Health Insurance director (underwriting, products & claims) Bhabatosh Mishra, Covid brought down health claims last year as people were locked in, avoided hospitalisation and delayed elective surgeries. “There is no major change in the number of emergency procedures like appendicitis, but cases like gall bladder surgeries, which can be delayed, are going up,” said Mishra. He added that given the higher than usual monsoon in places, there has been a spike in dengue including Bengaluru and Hyderabad, in addition to Mumbai and Delhi.
“People have lost jobs, their source of income and probably sat idle at home for months. Those factors combined with lack of exercise can build up the stress levels, putting them at risk of heart conditions,” said Dr Pahlajani. He added that people have been missing out on routine checks on sugar and blood pressure levels due to the pandemic. Covid survivors too may see symptoms of inflammation after months. In Mumbai, hospital beds are largely occupied by dengue, malaria and chikungunya cases and not Covid at present, said Dr Gautam Bhansali of Bombay Hospital.
Mishra expects cases to remain elevated as the monsoon is not over yet. Also, many of the elective surgeries are usually scheduled for winter as, given India’s weather, surgical wounds heal better and risk of monsoon infections are lower.