The health insurance sector in Saudi Arabia is showing great potential for growth and development, according to Tal Nazer, CEO of Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance.
“Over the years, the sector has witnessed rapid growth, with the market size increasing from around SR1.3 billion ($350 million) in 2005 to more than SR25 billion in 2021, which is a growth of over 19 times in just 17 years.”
The kingdom’s health insurance beneficiaries number around 11.8 million with only 24 companies offering health insurance, thus presenting a huge opportunity in the sector for investment.
Nazer, who recently participated in the Financial Sector Conference (FSC), said factors impacting the upward graph include mandatory health insurance for private sector workers and their families, increased demand for healthcare services, population growth, demographic changes, and economic growth and diversification in the country.
Nazer welcomed the holding of FSC 2023 and said the company’s involvement in such events underscores its ongoing efforts to advance economic and social development in the kingdom, which is a vital component of the national economy and a key contributor to achieving the goals of Vision 2030. The Bupa Arabia CEO joined a key panel discussion in the second edition of the FSC, which was recently held in Riyadh.
Nazer said the recent decision to abolish the Council of Health Insurance’s Article 117, which prohibited insurance companies from investing in healthcare, has opened up new opportunities for the growth and development of companies.
The health insurance industry’s growth comes despite several challenges and disruptions currently facing the industry, Nazer said, adding that the global economy is indeed in crisis, as it is witnessing a rise in inflation rates, interest rates, and supply chain disruptions.
“This has a significant impact on financial institutions including insurance companies in the kingdom, thus affecting insurance prices as well. This has ultimately led to a rise in the cost of health insurance,” he observed.
Nazer said the implementation of a comprehensive digital transformation strategy in the Saudi insurance industry is the need of the hour.
He said technological progress has brought about a major transformation in the industrial sector in the kingdom. Insurance companies began providing digital services to customers, mainly after the Covid-19 pandemic, to help them obtain distinguished services as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
“The continuity and survival of insurance companies have become dependent on how seamlessly they provide services by leveraging digital solutions,” the Bupa Arabia chief said. To improve clients’ experience, he said, insurance companies that adopt digitisation are growing their business twice as fast and achieving higher profitability than their less digitally mature counterparts.
Bupa Arabia pioneers digitisation
Bupa Arabia has been at the forefront of digital transformation in the insurance sector, striving to enhance the customer experience, support sustainable economic growth, and improve the quality of life, in line with the ambitious Vision 2030.
Nazer said: “The company established a dedicated digital transformation department in 2018, with the goal of developing digital solutions and services. It also launched a telemedicine platform to provide telehealth services and exclusive programs to streamline the treatment process for its customers and improve their digital health experience.”
The Bupa Arabia app allows members to consult doctors anytime, anywhere via video consultation. This has earned the company a reputation for being a pioneer in digital transformation in the Saudi insurance industry, he added.
Additionally, Nazer said, the app directly connects members to the main healthcare providers, offering a premium healthcare experience. The app has achieved nearly 22 million transactions to date, with a high rating of 4.5 on the App Store. The percentage of digital adoption for payment claims among customers is 98%, and the demand for digital healthcare services has reached 59%.
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