Private medical insurers have been urged to think about how the way their products are designed, sold and promoted may inadvertently discriminate against certain groups of people.
Chico Chakravorty, founder of Doing Diversity Differently told Health & Protection’s Health Summit that how products are designed or sold may exclude certain demographics.
“For example are there elements might exclude trans healthcare or same sex parents that may well have policies and actually the benefit that may only pay for certain genders to receive certain elements of pay as part of your benefits?” he said.
“Are there certain treatments or medications which might not be available for all conditions despite the fact there might be similarities within that?”
Chakravorty (pictured) cited a 2022 study from the Microbiology Society which looked at the philanthropic donations into sickle cell and cysticfibrosis.
“Sickle cell is a condition that predominantly affects people of colour and cysticfibrosis tends to affect more white people, but actually you still have more black people affected by cysticfibrosis than you do sickle cell,” he continued.
“But because of the relatability and the connections to those conditions, it was something like 75 times the amount of philanthropic giving was given by governments, by funding bodies, by individual donors.
“So we see a complete dearth of funding opportunity and research going into certain conditions which may well affect certain demographics.”
Claims and complaints data
But Chakravorty also suggested insurers really look into what is happening with their claims and complaints data.
“Are there certain groups that you are seeing having their claims rejected?” he said.
“Could there be a particular pattern in that? That might not neccessarily be a direct thing but it may well be something that you haven’t even thought of.
“And a lot of the time that may well be because of the programming algorithms etc, but is there something unfair?
“And if it’s not necessarily looking at the direct claims data. Maybe look at your complaints data. Who are coming in and complaning more because the policies they feel they were being sold aren’t actually what’s being used in practice?
“Are advertising campaigns potentially not reaching everyone or alienating certain groups? What is that going to be doing?
“So think about what it is you can do that helps you to connect with your customers in a slightly more meaningful way.”