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Choosing a health insurance policy can be a complicated decision, especially if you own a small business or want to provide insurance for your household. Several Health Maintenance Organizations or HMO providers in the market offer different insurance policies at various price points to survey.
Maria Health, the largest and only health insurance marketplace based in the Philippines and a licensed insurance aggregator, aims to simplify choosing and purchasing health insurance through a direct-to-consumer online marketplace. It was founded in 2017 to address the underinsurance gap in the Philippines. During that time, only 5% of 100 million Filipinos had access to a health insurance plan, resulting in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses reaching a massive $25 billion.
Maria Health saw an opportunity to build a direct-to-consumer brand, to democratize access to health insurance while opening access to new markets for our insurance partners through technology,” says Vincent Lau, the CEO of Maria Health.
After four years since its conception, Maria Health announced today that it had raised an undisclosed round with the Philippines’ largest insurer. InLife, one of the biggest insurance companies in the country, led the round with participation from other big names such as Wavemaker, Tryb, and CELO Foundation.
“InLife and Maria Health share the same advocacy — that of financial inclusion. Our investment is very timely as we mark our 111thanniversary in the business and move forward to meet the needs of our customers through innovation. With InLife’s stake in Maria Health, we are also spurring our digital adoption as we transform into an internet economy,” said Noemi Azura, president and CEO of Insular Health Care.
This is not the first time that the two companies have worked together. In 2018, InLife, through its InLife Sheroes, initially partnered with Maria Health back in 2018. In 2019, InLife Healthcare premiered with Maria Health.
The use of technology for Maria Health bridges the geographical limitations of the Philippines outside of Metro Manila. It addresses the sales and distribution challenges of traditional insurance to the population dispersed across 7,000 islands.
Aside from allowing customers to compare health insurance policies on their own, Maria Health’s team of licensed agents offer support during the duration of their policies. Specifically, they assist by answering questions about claims, policy benefits/administration, payments, and renewals.
By introducing a human touch, Maria Health recognizes that health insurance is not just a one-time purchase, but an ongoing relationship and our customers will want to speak to someone.
To keep its business model scalable, Maria Health has built sales automation tools and direct integrations for convenient transactions with consumers and insurers. These technological developments enhance services for its 30,000 insured members. These tools are also in conjunction with the accelerated digitization observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting a touch-less approach to insurance sales and distribution.
“We are excited about partnering with Maria Health to make healthcare more accessible. As the first major provider to start operating in CELO stablecoins, Maria Health is accelerating our society’s path towards a digital payments future,” says Rene Reinsberg, president of CELO Foundation, a company Maria Health also partnered for tech advancement through the use of digital payment infrastructures.
Insuretech is a hot sector across Southeast Asia and worldwide, with investments of $9 million in Lifepal Series and $6 million in Policystreets’ Series A fundraising initiatives. Policybazaar, India’s largest insurance aggregator, with a similar business model to Maria Health is set for its $6B IPO listing.
However, unlike other Insuretech companies, Maria Health takes a different approach due to its marketplace catering only to customers looking for health insurance. Maria Health believes that the Philippines is a global market, with over 10 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) bringing in $40 billion in remittances.
“Imagine if Filipinos abroad could buy health insurance for their families back home; with Maria Health, they can do that today,” Maria Health CEO Vincent Lau says on the expansion to a global Filipino market.
10% of Maria Health’s first-time coverage buyers (which comprises 90% of its customers) are families of OFWs, and a staggering 75% are women. Meanwhile, 80% of SME consumers are considered small enterprises with 2-50 employees.
Aside from technological and market expansion, Maria Health observed 100% growth to its Gross Written Premiums (GWP) during the past four years since its founding. Acquisition margins also improved by a monumental 668%, with stronger demand for health insurance.
Maria Health will allocate its proceeds towards deeper integration with its strategic health insurance carriers for smoother and more convenient transactions to support this continued growth. Proceeds will also develop sales automation tools for our agents and carriers and strengthen brand awareness in the marketplace.
As a health-focused marketplace that helps customers compare different plans easily, Maria Health also partnered with leading health insurance brands, such as Intellicare, Maxicare, MediCard, and PhilCare, plus leading clinics and diagnostics centers like Aventus and High Precision. They also partnered with Konsulta MD, the largest telemedicine platform in the country, and global insurance companies Allianze and Etiqa.
With these efforts, Maria Health positions itself as the No. 1 trusted brand for health insurance in the Philippines. (✓)