OIC exchanges altering perspectives on health insurance technological innovation development in the international arena with Hong Kong regulatory agency in enhancing Thai insurance business.
The OIC’s Secretary-General,Dr. Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn, was invited to be a guest speaker on the topic "Health Insurance Development in Thailand: Opportunities and Challenges" during the " Health Insurance Innovation Congress Asia Pacific 2018" forum held at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on November 28, 2018. The seminar included the insurance business operators, IT business developers from various countries worldwide to exchange experiences, knowledge, and perspectives on technology development and innovation in health insurance. Dr. Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn denoted that as today population structure has been moving to elderly society, it is necessary to be ready for the situation that more elderly medical expenses will be increasing and the burden would go to both public and state.
Thailand currently classifies public health care into three main plans for three groups of people under government’s partly financial support, which are the government pension plan, the social security plan and, the national health security plan.
In addition, Thailand’s 20-year national strategic plan (on public health) supports the future urban society, elderly society, climate change, technological advances, the context of preventable diseases illness and the increasing health costs. The government will encourage the private sector to participate in increasing health protection. The first step is having the employer providing additional health benefits for employees. The second is having the insurance company offering health protection policy for the public.
The OIC will be determining the term and condition in the private health insurance benefits package and has therefore provided standardization and content improvement scheme for health insurance contracts in order to have a standard health insurance contract supportive to Thailand health reformation plan. It has been adaptable and consistent with today technology, up-to-date medical treatment methodology, and other current circumstances
The conference’s participants paid attention to the Thai health insurance development especially in technology applying which will make people more convenient and open opportunity for insurance and health-related technology companies in further cooperation in HealthTech products and services. This will lead to opportunities for cross-border health insurance for countries in the Asia Pacific.
Later on 29 November 2018, Dr. Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn with the Thai team, met with Mr. Clement Cheung, Chief Executive Officer of Insurance Authority (IA), the regulatory agency of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China to discuss various issues and preparation for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between two regulatory offices in order to coordinate in overseeing the insurance business that operates of both Thailand and Hong Kong in the form of business group. The cooperation initiated by the OIC includes developing knowledge and sharing experiences. Successfully negotiating with the Hong Kong’s IA would expect to have the MOU signed by December of this year.
Furthermore,Dr. Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn also discussed with Mr. Clement to have Hong Kong's assessment experiences for OIC’s preparation on Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) of which the Hong Kong ‘s IA has had experienced. Mr. Clement pinpointed that the assessment team will focus on the business conditions of the country and issues that need to be improved, developed and regulated to meet the International standard. The focus should also include international cooperation, such as this MOU. Besides, others will be inspected such as the conference like Asian Forum of Insurance Regulator: AFIR, a conference between the insurance regulatory agencies in Asia where observers from various international agencies attend this forum to exchange knowledge, experience, and guidelines for overseeing new insurance businesses annually.
In addition, Mr. Clement commented on InsurTech development viewpoint that should start with the issuance of insurance businesses licenses for the “Start-up” to have their own insurance products or services and should be in the form of Fast-Track in order to go together with the fast business. And that currently, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is in the process of issuing new licenses for internet insurance product offering (online) as the only channel, not for insurance agents and brokers anymore. A lot of interested agents are applying for this license which currently is under considering and interviewing the applicant who plans to focus on the youth and younger market through the internet.
Mr. Clement also commented on the Thai proposal of forwarding the ASEAN standard insurance products development to the ASEAN Finance Ministers Conference in 2019 hosted by Thailand. Giving information that, under the coordination between Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong has similar development guidelines under the name of Insurance Connect, connecting the Insurance service of Hong Kong with the coastal city of China, the IA would give license for the insurance company service center which would operate in the coastal city of China to provide the services of insurance policies issuance, claims process at site for those who buy insurance in Hong Kong to eliminate travelling time wasting and facilitate those Hong Kong businessmen who operate business across the border. However such plan has been under carefully scrutinized and the operation has not yet been permitted. On part of miss-selling insurance product offering and the punishment measure of violation is still questionable. Should the ASEAN insurance products development guidelines in the form of simple micro-insurance products through online distribution channels as proposed by Thai be successful, it would be possible and have the opportunity to be successful for Hong Kong as well.
By consultation with Hong Kong’s IA, the OIC can apply the Hong Kong experience on the assessment of the financial sector for our preparation for the assessment of the financial sector of Thailand which the delegate of the assessor will be in Thailand to examine the compliance with the international standards of Thai insurance business regulation early 2019. In addition, some form of Insurance Connect service developed currently in Hong Kong can be applied for ASEAN Micro Insurance Product development. The MOU signing with Hong Kong’s IA will be the other important step in exchanging knowledge, problems in various issues and help developing the sustainable insurance business of Thailand.