Praised by consumer representatives, this renewed competition is welcomed freshly in a sector which has had to accept significant regulatory changes in recent years.
From Tuesday, individuals wishing to obtain health insurance with more coverage or less cost will be able to terminate their complementary at any time. Promised by the executive two years ago in the midst of the “yellow vests” crisis, this strengthening of competition is seen as good news by consumer representatives, even if health insurers, who have had to accept major regulatory changes in recent years, tend to shower expectations of price cuts.
“This is an important measure both in terms of simplifying the daily life of the French and in terms of purchasing power”, explained last week the ministries of the Economy and Health after the publication of a decree putting to music this provision voted in the summer of 2019. Until now, the insured could cancel their health insurance once per year before their anniversary date. Now they can do it at any time. As long as their contract is at least one year old.
Lack of transparency
This strengthening of competition, comparable to what has been implemented in the auto or home insurance markets, is viewed favorably by consumer representatives. On Monday, the UFC-Que Choisir association was delighted that this measure offering “Savings prospects” is ” finally “ in force.
However, the organization points to the “still too limited” readability of the contracts and deplores the fact that some additional do not communicate as it should on the rate of redistribution to insureds of contributions. A ratio presented as « indispensable » to compare market offers.
No magic price drop
Health insurers, for their part, explain that this new “infra-annual” termination option will not upset the situation in terms of tariffs.. “This market has already been very competitive for several years. There will be no magic price drop ”, explains Albert Lautman, Managing Director of Mutualité Française, an organization representing more than 250 mutual health insurance companies.
“What fundamentally drives the evolution of prices are health spending, which has increased very dynamically in recent years”, he continues. And this, even if the Covid-19 has blurred the lines and pushed the executive to tax health insurers in the name of the drop in health spending caused by the containment measures.
A form of call for air
As soon as the idea of infra-annual termination surfaced, health insurers warned that it could encourage behavior harmful to their financial equilibrium and ultimately to policyholders. Contrary to the mutualisation, dear to insurers, individuals could thus take out covering insurance to be reimbursed for significant health expenses, before changing their complementary shortly after.
Moreover, this new right would be cumbersome to implement. Competition would also increase marketing needs and ultimately management costs. “There is going to be a form of air draw. Maybe it will lower the bill for a short time, but it will cost more for insurers. So there may be some catching up ”, assures Jérémy Sebag, the co-founder of the brokerage group SPVIE Assurances.
“It is a market in which the economic situation of the players is already quite tense”, underlines Alix Pradère, director of the OpusLine consulting firm, recalling that health insurers have had to cash in on major reforms in recent years, including the implementation of the zero charge for policyholders.