Posts tagged ‘Insurance’


China to expand medical insurance for major illnesses | Reuters

China will expand medical insurance to cover all critical illnesses for all urban and rural residents by the end of the year, the cabinet said on Sunday, the latest step in a plan to fix a healthcare system that has sparked public discontent.

The State Council said 50 percent of the medical costs will be covered by insurance in a bid to “more effectively reduce the burden of medical expenses”, in a statement posted on the government’s website.

President Xi Jinping‘s government has touted access to affordable healthcare as a key platform of his administration, underscoring the importance of meeting the needs of the nearly 1.4 billion people, many of whom have often complained of large out-of-pocket expenses due to low levels of insurance coverage.

Many people say the cost of serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes can bankrupt households under the current system.

The aim of expanding health insurance was to “effectively alleviate poverty caused by illness” and to build a strong universal healthcare system, the State Council said.

Since 2009, China has spent 3 trillion yuan ($480 billion) on healthcare reform, but the system still struggles with a scarcity of doctors, attacks by patients on medical staff and a fragmented drug distribution and retail market.

Economists say it is crucial for China to improve the quality of its healthcare if it wishes to remake its economy and boost domestic consumption. They say a stronger safety net will encourage Chinese to spend more and save less.

China’s healthcare spending is set to hit $1 trillion by 2020, up from $357 billion in 2011, according to McKinsey & Co, attracting a rapid inflow of money from private insurers, hospital operators and other investors.

via China to expand medical insurance for major illnesses | Reuters.


What the Budget Means for Regular Indians – India Real Time – WSJ

The Modi government’s budget offered some sops for middle-class tax payers and a series of steps aimed at boosting social security for the country’s poor.

Tax Breaks on Health Insurance, Travel: Individuals will be allowed to deduct up to 25,000 rupees ($400) annually in health-insurance premiums from their taxes. That is an increase from the current 15,000-rupee deduction. For people 60 years or older, the deduction will be 30,000 rupees.

Mr. Jaitley also proposed increasing the amount of transportation expenses individuals can deduct to 1,600 rupees a month, up from 800 rupees a month now.

Pension Deduction: Individuals can now claim an additional tax deduction of up to 50,000 rupees ($800) if they put the money in the government’s New Pension Scheme. “This will enable India to become a pensioned society instead of a pensionless society,” said Mr. Jaitley.

Social Security programs: In a bid to provide a social safety net, Mr. Jaitley said the state will provide accidental death insurance of 200,000 rupees for a premium of just one rupee a month. State insurers will also offer policies covering natural and accidental death for 330 rupees a year.

Though available to all, the relatively small size of the insurance cover implies these will likely be used mostly by the poor.

The government will also encourage individuals to set up pension accounts under a new program. For individuals who open such an account by Dec. 31, the government will match individual contributions up to 1,000 rupees a year, for five years.

Tax-Free bonds:  Mr. Jaitley plans to allow government agencies and others to issue tax-free infrastructure bonds to fund roads, railways and irrigation. Details weren’t disclosed but typically interest on such bonds is tax free.

Service Tax: Now for the bad news: your restaurant and phone bills will soon go up, because the government will raise the service tax to 14% from 12.4%. Individuals indirectly pay this tax on a wide range of services, including on insurance premiums, hotel bills and electricity bills.

Gold Bonds: Since Indians won’t give up their love for gold, Mr. Jaitley tried to come up with ways to at least get it out of people’s homes and into banks. He introduced a plan that he said would make it easier for people keep gold in a bank, earn interest on it and borrow against it.

Mr. Jaitley also proposed a “Sovereign Gold Bond” that would act as an alternate to owning physical gold. These bonds would have a fixed rate of interest and “be redeemable in cash in terms of the face value of the gold,” he said.

Unaccounted-for Money: Mr. Jaitley said the government would introduce more stringent requirements for people to declare assets held overseas and make it harder for people to buy real-estate with cash in an effort to tax evasion.

via What the Budget Means for Regular Indians – India Real Time – WSJ.


Chinese insurer Anbang extends M&A drive with $1 billion South Korea buy | Reuters

China’s Anbang Insurance Group is paying $1 billion to buy a controlling stake in South Korea’s Tong Yang Life Insurance, extending a global acquisitions drive that has already seen it spend $10 billion in under four months.

Anbang agreed to buy a combined 63 percent stake in South Korea’s eighth-largest life insurer from three separate shareholders for 1.13 trillion won ($998 million), or 16,700 won per share, Tong Yang said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

This follows once-obscure Anbang’s deal announced just a day earlier to buy an insurance arm of Dutch bank and insurer SNS Reaal for at least 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion).

The privately-held insurer and asset manager, which according to a media report is considering an initial public offering this year, recently sealed a $1.95 billion purchase of New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel. It also bought the Belgian banking operations of Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd NV, for 219 million euros.

The flurry of deals shows Anbang’s global ambitions and comes as China’s financial firms are increasingly targeting assets outside of home for growth.

via Chinese insurer Anbang extends M&A drive with $1 billion South Korea buy | Reuters.


China Bans Companies From Selling ‘World Cup Heartbreak Insurance’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The World Cup is about to break a few more hearts.

China’s Insurance Regulatory Commission announced Thursday that it would ban insurance companies from developing and selling products related to gambling.  So long, ‘World Cup Heartbreak Insurance.’ We hardly knew you.

Before the World Cup started, An Cheng Insurance sold the heartbreak insurance in an attempt to ease the pain for fans whose favorite teams were knocked out of the tournament early. The company had planned to release new insurance products for the upcoming second round of the World Cup, “but there is no more,” said Zhang Yi, product manager at An Cheng.

The insurance regulator released the policy on Thursday.

“They are the leading body at a higher level, so we need to respect whatever their decision is,” Mr. Zhang said.

On Friday, “World Cup Heartbreak Insurance” was no longer available on An Cheng’s store on Alibaba’s Tmall platform. It had also been removed from the company’s own online shop.

Although the company can’t keep hearts from breaking, it is still offering another World Cup-related product: “Getting Drunk Insurance.”

This product has a premium of 13 yuan ($2) for young people (defined as those between the ages of 18 and 40) and 18 yuan for those from 41 to 50 years old. It covers medical expenses of up to 500 yuan if the buyer gets drunk and sick. The coverage lasts for 90 days.

Meanwhile, Shanghai-based Zhong An Insurance is still selling its World Cup insurance products, including “Soccer Hooligan Insurance,” “Night Owl Insurance,” “Foodie Insurance” and “Getting Drunk Insurance.”

A spokeswoman for the insurance company said it doesn’t have to discontinue its World Cup-related products because they are normal medical or personal accident insurance and aren’t related to gambling. “Although we use the World Cup as a special time to promote our products, it’s very different from gambling,” she said.

Those who break their hearts by placing failed bets on the outcome of the games can at least take some solace in knowing the tournament only comes around once every four years.

–Olivia Geng

via China Bans Companies From Selling ‘World Cup Heartbreak Insurance’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


* China increasing coverage of serious illness insurance – Xinhua |

China will expand a program that enables people with serious illnesses to get more compensation from medical insurance schemes to all the country’s regions in 2014.

According to a statement issued by the State Council medical reform office on Saturday, pilots of such programs should be launched in all the country’s provincial-level regions by the end of June this year.

The new move is aimed at reducing the number of cases in which people are reduced to poverty by the burden of medical fees, the statement said.

Six Chinese authorities issued a circular in 2012 on the program, stating that part of the funds collected in the current basic medicare insurance schemes for urban and rural residents could be used to purchase commercial medical insurance, so that a greater proportion of the medical fees of people with serious diseases will be covered.

A latest circular issued by the medical reform office said that local finance, human resources and social security, civil affairs, health and insurance authorities should collaborate for the expansion of the program, according to Saturday’s statement.

There should be more efforts to raise public awareness of the program so as to make the benefits easier for people to secure, it said.

The statement added that the quality and the expenditure of medical services should also be scrutinized to curb unreasonable medical treatments and fees.

via China increasing coverage of serious illness insurance – Xinhua |

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Xinhua Insight: Aging China wants fairer, efficient social insurance – Xinhua |

Wang Hong, a 31-year-old woman and stay-at-home mother in South China\’s Haikou City, is worried about her future pension as she stopped paying social insurance four years ago.

After paying the insurance for five years while at work, Wang quit her hotel job to look after her child. With her child now 3 years old, Wang Hong, not her real name, is looking for a new job. But she is hesitant about paying the insurance she has missed for the past four years.

\”I don\’t know what will happen to my money in a social insurance account with possible inflation and other risks. It feels safer to keep it in my own pocket,\” she said.

In China, 38 million people stopped paying social insurance this year, either before or after reaching the pension-receiving threshold of 15 years.

Laid-off workers, employees in cash-strapped small companies and migrant workers are the majority of those who have stopped paying the insurance halfway through, according to Cui Peng, a research fellow with People\’s Insurance Company of China.

Social insurance funds cover basic endowment for senior citizens, basic medicare, unemployment, work-related injury and maternity.

The spending of endowment insurance funds, a key part of social insurance, grew 22 percent in 2012 year on year, while its revenue increased by 19 percent, according to the Ministry of Finance last week. This poses challenges for future pension payments.

According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, at the end of 2012 about 210 million urban employees paid endowment insurance.

Endowment insurance is paid by staff and the company, 8 percent and 20 percent of his or her wage respectively.

The money from companies is used to meet current pension demands while personal payments are accumulated for his or her own future pension after retirement.

However, as China\’s population ages, personal payments are often used to supplement growing current pension demands.

via Xinhua Insight: Aging China wants fairer, efficient social insurance – Xinhua |


* Lloyd’s building sold to Ping An

Insurance Times: “The Lloyd’s building will be sold to Chinese insurance firm Ping An for about £260m.

Lloyd's building

There is no sign that the Lloyd’s market would need to leave the building.

Commerz Real was the firm appointed to selll the building, helped by CBRE and Savills, according to The Times.”

via Lloyd’s building sold to Ping An | Latest News | Insurance Times.

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* Lawmaker calls for pollution liability insurance law

Xinhua: “A Chinese lawmaker has urged the government to create laws enforcing a scheme that makes enterprises pay compensation in cases of polluting accidents.


Insurance (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

Such environmental pollution liability insurance, serving as a safety net, will help enterprises that pose heavy risks to better prevent pollution and ensure compensation for victims when they fail, said Zuo Xuwen, director of the Hubei provincial Insurance Regulatory Bureau.

China is in urgent need of implementing the insurance in the face of intensifying pollution pressure recently, Zuo said on Thursday in Beijing on the sidelines of parliament’s annual session.

Pilot environmental pollution liability insurance schemes have already had success in the provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Jiangsu, according to Zuo.

In September 2008, some 120 households in Zhuzhou City of central China’s Hunan Province received compensation from an insurance company after falling victim to leakage from a local insecticide factory that caused great damage to the environment.

Zuo suggested that local legislation should be set up in accordance with each regional situation to encourage enterprises to participate in the insurance.

Zuo also called for the setting-up of pollution compensation funds when there is confusion in identifying polluters. This move would buffer victims from greater losses, and the fund would be entitled to the right of recourse for those eventually proved responsible, the official said.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission jointly issued a guideline in January to promote compulsory insurance pilots in heavy industries and other big-polluting enterprises.”

via Lawmaker calls for pollution liability insurance law – Xinhua |


* China to expand rural medical insurance coverage

Xinhua: “China will include more serious diseases in its existing rural medical insurance system in 2013, the Ministry of Health said in an annual work agenda published on Friday.


Insurance (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

According to the agenda, pilot programs will be launched to ensure that rural children with two types of severe urine disorders, among other diseases that the plan did not elaborate on, have their medical expenses reimbursed under the rural cooperative medical cooperative program.

China launched the rural insurance scheme in 2003 to ensure that the country’s vast number of rural residents have access to affordable medical treatment and to reduce disease-triggered poverty. Under the program, both governments and individuals contribute.

As of 2012, the scheme covers 20 serious diseases, up from two in June 2010, when serious diseases were first included in the reimbursement plan.

According to the ministry’s agenda, the annual government subsidy for participants in the rural health care scheme will be raised by 40 yuan(6.43 U.S. dollars) to 280 yuan in 2013.

Participants will have 75 percent of their inpatient expenses reimbursed under the rural cooperative medical program and coverage for outpatient costs will be boosted, it said.

The ministry requires that the minimum annual reimbursement for rural inhabitants subsidiary should be no less than 80,000 yuan.

In 2013, individuals will each pay a 60-yuan premium, bringing the total funds pooled for each person to 340 yuan, up from 290 yuan in 2012. In 2003, the average fund pooled for each person was 30 yuan.

Official statistics show that the number of people covered by the program skyrocketed from 80 million in 2003 to nearly 900 million in 2012.”

via China to expand rural medical insurance coverage – Xinhua |


* India Moves Again to Ease Way for Foreign Investment

It’s a case of “in for a penny in for a pound”. If the Opposition is stirred up already against the opening up of retail business to FDI, why not jump in with insurance and pensions too.

New York Times: “In their second major effort in two months to revive a flagging economy, Indian policy makers on Thursday proposed letting foreign investors take a bigger stake in insurance and pension companies.

The measures, which were approved by the cabinet, will now go to the Parliament, where their passage is far from certain. The national governing coalition led by the Indian National Congress Party does not have a majority in the legislature, and opposition parties and even some of its own allies have said they do not support greater foreign investment.

Still, anticipation of the changes sent the India’s benchmark stock index Sensex up 1 percent to its highest close in more than a year.

The index has rallied about 5 percent since the middle of September, when the government allowed greater foreign investment in retailing and aviation and reduced government energy subsidies.

Under the proposal approved by the cabinet, foreign companies would be allowed to acquire up to 49 percent in Indian insurance and pension firms, a change that both Indian and overseas firms have long lobbied for, saying that the sectors needed more capital to grow.

Foreign companies are now allowed to hold a 26 percent stake in insurance companies but are not allowed to invest in pension firms. India’s insurance premiums total about $40 billion a year and its pension industry has assets of $300 million.

The changes will most likely face stiff opposition in Parliament, which was paralyzed during its last session after the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party repeatedly interrupted proceedings to demand the resignation of the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, in connection with a scandal involving the allocation of coal concessions. The next session of Parliament begins in November.

Opposition officials, who were involved in drafting the proposals at an earlier stage of the lawmaking process, have said that they would not support an increase in foreign investment to 49 percent. Some of the government’s allies have also said they do not support the change.

“Legislation in democracy is a process of negotiation and discussion,” Palaniappan Chidambaram, India’s finance minister, said at a news conference.

“Obviously, we need to talk. We will sit and talk to all parties, especially the principal opposition.””

via India Moves Again to Ease Way for Foreign Investment –

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