Prevention is changing the face of health insurance.
Say you get sick and claim on your health insurance. You get a payout - it’s a relief, probably. But it doesn’t make you well again. What you really want is to not be sick in the first place and you can’t expect your insurer to help with that. Can you?
Jake takes his medication wherever he goes. He remembers the weight pressing down on his chest, squeezing the air out of his lungs and replacing it with something solid. He remembers the blue lights, the sirens. He remembers the hospital - the smell, the tubes.
Jake is eight. He’s had asthma for as long as he can remember. For Jake’s mum and dad, managing his asthma has become a way of life.
According to Asthma UK, an estimated 334 million people worldwide have asthma, just like Jake. Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
Blurred lines: who helps you stay healthy?
Having asthma doesn’t usually increase the cost of life or health insurance, or mean you can’t get cover. But there are exceptions. If you’ve been to hospital frequently, or had trouble finding the right medication, this could impact your insurance. If it’s severe you may need a medical report and lung function tests.
Imagine if an insurance company could help prevent this. Stop the attacks or give Jake treatments that work.
Traditionally, we’ve relied on medical science to prevent poor health. But new technologies and applications are blurring the lines between industries. Insurers today are investing in start-ups and technologies to help people stay fitter and healthier – and prevent the need to claim.
Prevent that frightening rush to hospital
Poland has 33 out of 50 of the most polluted cities in Europe. Children with asthma are more at risk from the effects of pollution because they have faster breathing rates and their lungs are still developing. Older people with asthma, particularly if they have underlying COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) are also at risk.
Aviva Poland is working with start-up companies to detect levels of smog. Sensors have been placed around several cities and, through an app on your phone, you can see how high the levels are, helping to prevent that frightening rush to hospital.
Another start-up, Propeller Health has created a new way to manage asthma. By adding a sensor to your inhaler you can get instant insights into your asthma triggers, manage your symptoms and prevent attacks. It also sends the information straight to your doctor.
Technology is evolving for the treatment of other lung diseases and this is being used to look at further treatments for asthma. One of the start-up businesses in which Aviva Ventures has invested, Owlstone Medical, has created a 'cancer breathalyser' to help spot cancer earlier and save lives. Their goal is to save 100,000 lives, initially detecting lung and colon cancer, and extending the technology to other diseases in future.
Through this breath analysis technology, Owlstone is also researching new ways to target more effective treatments for asthma.
According to Owlstone the NHS spend £1billion a year treating and caring for people with asthma. Every year there are 56,000 NHS asthma related admissions and every year there will be 1167 asthma related deaths.
If the world is moving towards prevention, insurers have to as well. If not they are holding on to a business model that’s no longer relevant to customers.
“Working for an insurance company that’s taking prevention so seriously makes me proud. We don’t know which innovation is going to make the most difference for people but we are passionate about trying and want to help our customers prevent problems as well as protecting them with traditional insurance.”
- Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director, Aviva UK Health
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Gwen Warrilow - firstname.lastname@example.org mobile: 07800 692 940