Both anecdotes and data seem to suggest that Indian health insurance polices that are bought by us as individuals don’t pay up as much as they should. As we listen to the stories of our friends and family about the run around given by hospitals and medical insurance firms to pay up claims of a hospital bill, we quietly send up a prayer—please let me not be the one whose claim is rejected if I ever need to use my policy. There is increasing distrust in the medical insurance market for privately bought covers. Covers bought by corporations, called group covers, seem to have less problems of claims getting rejected.
The anecdotes are supported by data. A May 2018 working paper, titled Fair Play in Indian Health Insurance has done a deep dive into the sector. The big findings are two. One, claims are not paid as much as they should be. Two, India has the highest complaints rate when compared with other countries.
As the security woman at the entrance to a multiplex turns my hand bag inside out giving competition to an airline security check, she gleefully hits pay dirt. Not a small grenade, she’s found my bottle of gum and my tiny jar of dry fruit. No food allowed. But this is not food, it is something I carry in my bag all the time. An argument ensues and the movie experience is reduced. Once inside the complex, I find myself unwilling to pay exorbitant prices for average quality food that is pushed hard by ushers-turned-waiters who come in the way of movie watching.
What food costs inside a multiplex is suddenly part of the urban middle class discourse at dining tables, at social events, on social media, with the humble popcorn itself at the core of this debate. Popcorn in a multiplex costs about 500% more than what you get outside in the mall. Pop them at home, and the mark-up is more than a 1000%. While there is other food and drink being sold that is more expensive than retail prices outside, the price point of popcorn shows the highest mark-up. To force sales, multiplexes prohibit outside food from entering their premises, making for a captive consumer group who is out to have a good time and is in a mood to eat, drink and be entertained.
Super review by R Jagannathan in Swarajya magazine.
“This may be an overstatement, but it is probably true that most Indians are bad at managing their personal finances. And one is not talking only about people who use their credit cards as if there is no tomorrow, go for inappropriate insurance policies, invest in real estate or gold for the wrong reasons, buy stocks on the basis of inside information, or people who generally don’t save for their retirement till it is almost too late.
The truth is, even the financially literate, people who dabble in money day in and day out, can sometimes make huge mistakes based on ego – I know what I am doing; after all, I give others advice on where to put their money. I know, for I was one of them. I invested large sums regularly in the National Pension Scheme (NPS) on the assumption that no law would be daft enough to tax 100 per cent of withdrawals on maturity (usually at age 60, but which can be extended); I assumed that the tax, at best, would be on the gains made on my investment. Well, I was wrong, and ended up losing money on the NPS a year ahead of the time when taxation on withdrawals was made more rational.”