File photo of AVIVA-COFCO Life Insurance. [Photo/IC]

AVIVA-COFCO Life Insurance Co Ltd, a joint venture between the largest British life insurer Aviva Plc and China’s State-owned agricultural giant COFCO Corp, is strengthening its efforts in exploring the health insurance sector, one of the fastest growing industries in recent years.

The scale of health insurance has increased by 12 times in a decade and thus became the third-largest category of insurance following auto and life, Wang Mingyan, who heads product development at AVIVA-COFCO, said.

As of 2020, 13.61 million Chinese people were covered by the national basic medical insurance program, according to an annual report released by the National Healthcare Security Administration. But when facing critical illness, medical expenditures still remain a burden for many people, with some families even falling into poverty because of illness.

So, people still need additional insurance for specific diseases, not because they have a higher incidence, but for their higher treatment cost, Wang said.

The joint life insurer just launched a new critical illness insurance product, aiming to serve as a supplement to China’s medical and healthcare system.

Insuring consumers against up to 160 diseases, the product enhances the protection for some major critical illnesses such as stroke and acute myocardial infarction whose incidence rate is increasing year by year due to factors such as diet and lifestyle, Wang Jian, vice-president of marketing at AVIVA-COFCO, said.

Critical illness claims data from the company shows that malignant tumors, cardiovascular diseases and cerebrovascular diseases are the three major diseases, accounting for 92.1 percent of all claims.

Besides offering comprehensive insurance, the product also puts special emphasis on children’s critical illnesses, such as childhood leukemia, reported in 15,000 patients in China each year, he added.

The various definitions of critical illness have been standardized since the Insurance Association of China and Chinese Medical Doctor Association jointly published criteria, which took effect Feb 1, 2021.

The new criteria established a grading system, clarified the definitions of critical illness and expanded the coverage of the insurance, leading to launches of new critical illness insurance products.

Ma Bingying contributed to this story.