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Josep Santacreu, CEO of DKV Seguros, at Desayunos ESADE Alumni: "It is possible to grow without raising premiums"
"I think it is outrageous to cancel a policy or raise a premium because a patient has a health problem," said Josep Santacreu According to the CEO of DKV Seguros, "The key is to encourage the sector to do fewer, but better paid, medical interventions"
Madrid, May 31, 2017
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"It is possible to grow without raising premiums. I think it is outrageous to cancel a policy or raise a premium because a patient has a health problem," commented Josep Santacreu, CEO of DKV Seguros, at a recent session of Desayunos ESADE Alumni, held on ESADE's Madrid campus. According to Mr. Santacreu, health insurance is one of the few sectors that has not been affected by the decrease in income levels brought about by the economic crisis. Among other factors, "the efficiency of the operations and the quality of the suppliers have helped to keep premiums low", he explained. However, he argued that this situation cannot be maintained for the long term: "There has been a change in the power relationship; Until recently, it was the insurers who were in the better position and negotiated advantageously. However, we are now in a price war that is unsustainable, especially because of the low wages of health professionals."

 "The key is to encourage the sector to do fewer, but better paid, medical interventions," explained Mr. Santacreu, "and to prohibit the practice of negotiating low prices for groups of patients and then 'selecting' the ones that are cheapest to insure and excluding those who will consume the most." He added: "Although individual premiums are on the rise, collective premiums are the dominant form. At DKV, we are more concerned about individual premiums because we do not compete in price but rather in quality." Finally, he noted: "We prefer not to operate in certain collective offers."

Public-private partnerships: from MUFACE to Alzira

Turning his attention to the topic of public health and its relationship to the private sector, Mr. Santacreu mentioned two experiences – one better than another, in his view. He first described the mutual insurance relationship model - known as MUFACE - in which "we are happy, because 80% of public workers choose the three mutual insurance companies that are accredited for their quality". He noted, however, that the current setup will not be sustainable in the long run because "the premium is very low and this is an aging population". The second model he described, known as Alzira, consists of private management of public facilities. "The government asked us to invest in this, and it is now a delicate situation," he explained. "It's the same as what happened with renewables," he added. "They encouraged everyone to invest, and then they changed the regulation. Back then, we were asked to enter, and now they're inviting us to leave. It's a shame, because the private sector could put Spain at the forefront of Europe, and it hasn't happened because of situations like this."

Main challenges: digital ecosystem of health and preventive medicine

"We should be proud of the progress of Spanish start-ups specialised in healthcare," observed Mr. Santacreu, referring to the digitisation of the sector. "Besides our two apps, Digital Doctor and Quiero Cuidarme, there are about ten recently created companies, several of which are Spanish, and we are helping them." He added: "That is the battle of the next few years – the battle of digital health ecosystems."

The second app mentioned by Mr. Santacreu – Quiero Cuidarme – is open to both clients and non-clients, and is the only free app of its kind in the world. Two months from now, it will be launched in Germany. Mr. Santacreu then described preventive medicine as the sector's other great challenge for the future. "If we don't do something, obesity will cause life expectancy to drop for the first time since the Second World War," he noted. "We all know what we should do, but we don't do it; we have to promote a change of mentality."

Josep Santacreu is also CEO of ERGO Generales, President of Marina Salud and Chair of the DKV Integralia Foundation, which was created by DKV Seguros to promote the integration of differently abled people in society and the workforce. He was joined at this session of Desayunos ESADE Alumni by Pedro Navarro, Deputy Executive Chairman of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees.