Muscat: Oman represents a huge market for insurance providers, according to Arthur Cozad, CEO of Cigna Insurance Middle East, one of the largest firms of its kind in the region.
In an exclusive interview with the Times of Oman, Cozad detailed Cigna's strong heritage of excellence in the region, its future, and that of the medical insurance industry, as more markets and opportunities open up.
He said, "According to Oman’s Ministry of Health, only nine per cent of Omani nationals and 10 per cent of expats in the private sector are currently insured. This leaves a huge gap in the country’s healthcare ecosystem, where the majority of the population is left exposed to the risks associated with inadequate coverage.”
"Insurance penetration in Oman is only around 1.5 per cent, which is much lower than peers such as the UAE (2.3 per cent) — indicating a huge opportunity for insurance providers to meet a critical need in the market. I believe that introducing compulsory insurance in Oman is a step in the right direction, to expand the underpenetrated insurance market and improve the country’s healthcare provisions."
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region was witnessing a dynamic change in the health sector, defined by regulatory reforms and national agendas that prioritise the importance of quality healthcare. In addition, the shift in demand for preventive care, a rise in specialist medical services, and more efficiently integrated healthcare solutions were paving the way for maturity in the sector, said Cozad.
Recent surveys were helping companies such as Cigna deliver quality healthcare, as well as follow-up on customer trends and requirements.
"At Cigna, we believe the changing attitude towards healthcare delivery – wherein governments, employers and consumers alike see value in quality – is defining the future of the sector in the region. We see further room for growth as regional markets witness strong economic growth, leading to more consumers seeking preventive solutions and living a healthier lifestyle," said Cozad.
"Notably, our research through the 2017 Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey, covering globally mobile individuals in the Middle East, shows that a third of respondents believe they are not receiving adequate ‘duty of care’ from their employers currently. Moreover, close to 15 per cent believe the quality of local healthcare is insufficient," he added.
This demand for better health outcomes in the region would fuel a transformation in the healthcare sector. “Cigna addresses this need in the market through our unique health and wellbeing proposition, which prioritises preventive care over treatment-based coverage."
"In Dubai, we recently launched Cigna HealthguardSM – our first-ever solution for the Individual Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) segment in the Middle East. We are also looking to expand the scope of our Group Health solutions to include the large number of small- and medium-sized businesses in the region. We believe this approach will serve to address the various gaps that currently impact healthcare in the region," Cozad said.