With the increasing cost of health treatment in Cambodia, more people are turning to health insurance to insure that they can afford treatment in the event they get sick. Post Plus met up with Dr Or Saovanna, medical doctor and assistant general manager of Forte Insurance, Cambodia’s largest insurance company.
Dr Saovanna, what is the current state of the insurance industry in Cambodia and where does health insurance fit?
The Cambodian insurance market is still relatively young, according to figures released by the Insurance Association of Cambodia, the premiums for the entire general insurance sector at the end of 2014 were $53 million, with Forte leading the market with 45 per cent share overall, health insurance premiums have grown 430 per cent since 2009 and currently stand at $6.9 million.
What Forte see’s is people are increasingly aware of the importance of health insurance as part of their daily lives, they understand the cost of medical treatment is increasing and having protection for their families is important. Health Insurance is also playing a part in the development of the work place, as more local employers recognize the value of providing benefits such as health insurance in attracting and retaining quality staff.
How has insurance helped change the health sector in Cambodia and how has Forte led these changes?
When you provide health insurance it is essential that you are able to provide a comprehensive service when the patient needs it. A major challenge during the early days was the lack of medical partners that could offer the comprehensive treatments which Forte wanted our clients to receive. Then most medical professionals worked independently or specialized, so the idea of a holistic approach was still a new concept. To solve this Forte met with the medical professionals and hospitals to discuss new ideas on service and standards, the result of which led to the introduction of Forte panel hospitals. These panel hospitals agreed to follow set practice to meet the international standards and provide additional treatments that our clients required.
The knock on effect was that other medical institutions saw what was happening, and they too started to adopt these ideas.
The benefit of this helped change the public perception towards healthcare. People have became more confident in the treatment that they will receive locally thus fuelling demand which in turn drives further investment in medical facilities. 15 years ago people would actively seek treatment abroad, today more people are happy to stay and get the same treatment here, so a little bit of the credit has to go to Forte and others, who have helped make these changes happen.
Can you describe the different health insurance products Forte offers and what are their benefits?
Forte offers a range of products available depending on the needs of the customer. Our Emcare and Hospital and Surgical insurance are more aimed as a local health plan, whereas Figtree and Medi Plus are international health plans. Health plans needs to be tailored to the individual. What is good for one may not be right for another; therefore it is important to speak with a professional. Our people are qualified and trained to listen to what you need and understand what will work best for you. Some of the benefits Forte health plans provide are cashless payments, medical evacuation extending to a companion, and a 24 hour helpline with multilingual support staff.
How are Forte products designed to meet the different needs of your clients? Up to what sum is a person insured to?
It really depends on what is important to the client, each product meets different needs. If medical evacuation is important then our Medi Plus plan can work for you because it covers a travel companion. Medi Plus is recognized in 175 countries worldwide and covers expenses up to $2.5 million. It also provides cashless payment service when you or a member of your family is seriously hurt and you need to get emergency treatment. With our cashless system you can save a whole lot of stress, and even save your life.
What is the most popular health insurance product Forte offers?
Our most popular health plan is Hospital and Surgical. This policy is very popular with local people as it provides convenient access to hospitals, cash disbursements for room and board, dental coverage, and emergency treatment. Again, our Hospital and Surgical plan uses our cashless payment system.
What are the benefits of being insured through Forte?
Forte is the largest insurance company in the country, we have a strong business portfolio, which means we have the capacity to take on risk securely and manage claims effectively. Being successful opens the door to work with many local and international partners. A big part of our service is that Forte have already done due diligence on the available hospitals and medical professionals, making sure that they can provide the right level of care and attention. This means our clients can be confident they are in the right hands and are being treated by quality professionals with proven track record. Last year Forte was recognized for our quality of service, being presented an award from the Global Banking and Finance Review as the best insurance company in Cambodia.
What do you see the future for health insurance in Cambodia to be?
The good news is that people are waking up to insurance. They are better educated today and more aware of the benefits of a good health plan. As the local population continues to become wealthier, they will demand better health facilitates, advanced medicines and the latest treatments. However, the cost of medical treatment will increase as these advances become available. We know that salary increases are outpacing the cost of insurance, so it is safe to assume that people will understand that it is better to have insurance to protect themselves against the potential risks rather than be exposed to them.