AXA PPP recently announced its annual products review, which encloses a number of enhancements to benefits, including access to Chinese herbal medicine for Personal and Small Corporate clients with International Health Plans (IHP) for new and existing business. The inclusion of this kind of medicine is in line with the growing value of the Chinese market and the recent efforts from AXA PPP in licensing their products in China.
AXA PPP is part of the AXA Group – a UK base company with over 50 million clients throughout the world – and was the first European insurer established in Shanghai back in 1997. With over 70 years of experience, this insurance company understands the recent changes taking place in the Chinese market and is making the appropriate adjustments to its benefits. At the same time, more middle class Chinese people are living overseas today and the benefit enhances will provide them the opportunity to get the kind of healthcare they want, no matter where they are in the world.
The situation in China
Commercial medical insurance products emerged in China just a few years ago, and the lucrative business opportunities arrived after the social medical reform of the government in 1998. Despite the particular ups and downs of this new market, analysts agree that in the next 10 years there will be a high demand for health insurance from the upper and middle class citizens in China who are more educated about health issues and are expected to increase their lifestyle expectations. Therefore, there is an increased interest for global insurance, and AXA PPP is responding to those market trends.
There are two significant considerations when it comes to the reality of Chinese health however. One is that with the increase of purchasing power, the Chinese population has changed its eating and lifestyle habits, therefore hypertension and obesity have replaced infectious diseases and malnutrition as the highest priority health concerns. Research from Peking University showed that today China is home to one of the world's largest populations of diabetics. The second consideration is that China's population is getting older. This country not only has one of the world's largest elderly populations, but the country's one child policy has created a 4-2-1 ratio (four grandparents, two parents, one child) that leaves a potential of up to 6 dependents for every worker in a workforce that is shrinking.
Considering the above facts, it seems that AXA PPP has reached a smart approach by including into its health plans a kind of medicine that seeks to balance the body and promote health and is frequently used in this specific population.
What is Chinese herbal medicine?
Chinese herbal medicine has its roots in Taoist philosophy and their treatments seek to maintain the qi energy balance of a person. According to this approach, \health and disease are related to the balance of the functions of the human body interconnected with nature. In other words, traditional Chinese medicine is focused on restoring the balance of energy, body and spirit. Chinese medicine has been around longer than its western counterparts, with the first authenticated cases of Chinese Herbal treatment dating back to 168 BC.
Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine use herbs, acupuncture and other methods according to specific medical conditions. Each herbal treatment is individually designed for a patient and remedies (usually givens as teas, capsules, tinctures or powders) may contain different herbs, mineral and animal extracts each with a distinct function. They are designed to interact and restore balance of the energy flow in a particular patient, which will should mean faster results and less side-effects. There are hundreds of medical substances, mostly plants, classified by their perceived action in the body. More than a million tons of herbs are used each year in China alone.
Chinese herbal medicine is enjoying a resurgence in many areas around the world and a growing number of people are searching for policies that cover traditional Chinese Medicine and other alternative health care treatments.
Details about the benefit
AXA offers worldwide plans, excluding or including USA, in four levels of cover –Standard, Comprehensive, Prestige and Prestige Plus. Each level offers optional add-ons and excess to easily meet the client's particular needs.
Chinese herbal medicine has been added as part of complementary practitioner charges. A complementary practitioner is a specialist who is registered to practice as a homeopath, acupuncturist, osteopath or chiropractor where the treatment is given. According to the handbook of AXA PPP, medical practitioners' fees for treatments in hospitals, surgical procedures, consultations, out-patient diagnostic tests and vaccinations are eligible for benefits and subject to any limits of the policy.
On individual and small corporate plans, AXA PPP will pay in full up to 15 sessions per year at US $160 (€125) per session and the Chinese herbal medicine if the client has a Prestige Plus level plan. The same benefit on Prestige and Comprehensive levels is "Included within complementary practitioner benefit limit" – charges up to US $480 (€380) each year for all the complementary practitioner treatments. Clients on the Standard level of IHP that want cover for Chinese herbal medicine must add Out-patient treatment, where complementary practitioner charges including Chinese herbal medicine are limited to US $320 (€250).
AXA recommends clients to call the insurer prior to receiving any treatment so they can confirm that they will pay the medical practitioner's, physiotherapist's or complementary practitioner's fees in full. As with the other recent annual adjustments, this benefit came into effect at the beginning of October.