For many years now, expensive and complicated dental procedures have not been included in medical insurance. This has bothered several Indians because such procedures can burn quite a hole in one’s pocket. When I heard that dental insurance would now be offered in India, my curiosity was piqued. I landed at the office of Ocare, which is a dental care company.
I met Dr Neeraj Sheth, the founder and director of Ocare, who launched India’s first and only independent Insurance Process as a Service (IPASS) platform in October 2016. It aims to cover and provide group dental insurance, which includes insurance, dentistry work, and oral health care in India. While dental insurance had been in the pipeline for years in this industry, it was Dr Neeraj’s Ocare that pioneered it.
The official launch of the dental insurance was on October 27, 2016 by Vinay Sahasrabuddhe (Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha), and Drs Chandresh Shukla and Ashmita Singh of the Dental Council of India attended the event. “It is completely my brainchild, and I was backed by my team of dentists, as well as the Ocare team that has made this vision a reality. We’ve been planning it for the last three years, and it took about a year to conduct market research and test the product before officially launching it. Through India’s first and only independent IPASS platform, we have been able to get more than 10,000 dentists across India on board.” Ocare Dental Insurance has reached over 110 cities, and has sold more than two lakh policies, with Jain International Organization (JIO) becoming their first client. Vihana, a village situated in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra, was the first village to be covered by Ocare in India.
Currently, Ocare is offering dental insurance as a group insurance and not to individuals. Any group or company that has more than 50 employees is eligible for it. Free annual dental checkups are being offered to school kids, while corporate professionals get two free checkups under this policy.
Dr Rajeev Chitguppi, who is an integral part of the Ocare team, explained that insured individuals get the liberty to choose the dentist they want for their treatment. An intraoral camera is used to capture and maintain records of patients. After suggesting a particular treatment, the Ocare team reviews the case. Next, the dentist performs the treatment and uploads post-treatment pictures to the Ocare system. Once the whole process is over, the Ocare team reviews the treatment and then finally approves the reimbursement, which is given directly to the insured patient. Ocare’s IPASS is the only digital platform in the country that offers complete paperless insurance to consumers in India.
The premium for the policy, which is valid for a year, is priced at Rs 1950, all-inclusive. One gets a sum assured of Rs 25,000 in order to claim the reimbursements for the dental treatments that one has undergone in that particular year. Anyone between the ages of 1 to 80 can avail of this insurance policy.
“We aim to cover about 500 villages within one year of our product launch. Currently, only four percent of the population is aware about oral health care services, while more than 72 percent of the population consumes tobacco based products (according to a WHO report). Our aim is to make seven percent of the country’s population aware about the dental health over the next two to three years. Even this will be a huge achievement for us,” says Dr Neeraj.
An insurer also gets a preventive oral healthcare kit for maintaining personal hygiene. Aside from dental insurance, they are also attempting to provide preventive oral care services across India, including in rural villages at the grass-root level.
While it is true that Indians tend to run to the dentist only when the pain becomes unbearable, such an insurance policy will ensure quality checkups and treatments, and perhaps even prompt more people to visit dentists.