Seguros Unimed introduces measures to help members facing the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

ICMIF member Seguros Unimed is the largest doctors’ cooperative in the world and one of the three largest health insurers in Brazil and the organisation says it working to transform the future with increased healthcare services and financial coverage.   

Facing the current coronavirus pandemic, Unimed Seguros has followed the guidelines given by the Brazilian health authorities as well as that of international organisations and other scientific evidence that has rapidly emerged during the crisis.  

Seguros Unimed says its main priorities have been the safety of employees, assistance to policyholders and the sustainability of the business. All of which are essential to meet the organisation’s commitments to stakeholders and to society at large.

Seguros Unimed’s crisis management committee has been meeting on a daily basis since 12 March 2020 and devised a programme based on five priorities:  (1) customer focus; (2) job protection; (3) project continuity; (4) digital acceleration; (5) management integrity and efficiency.

Meeting these priorities has required a strong mobilisation within the organisation to allow more than 1,400 direct and indirect employees to work from home. It has also meant offering specific healthcare plans to customers as well as reviewing life insurance contracts and loss of income contracts to lift the exclusion clause relating to pandemics. 

Through its asset management company InvestCoop, Seguros Unimed has also launched a conservative investment fund to protect the technical reserves of medical cooperatives from financial markets volatility.

For the wider Brazilian society, Seguros Unimed has increased the support it gives to social benefit associations that tend to the needs of the vulnerable segments of society (which Unimed already assists) and has organised information campaigns on how to deal with the virus.

Assistance strategy and monitoring demand

Seguros Unimed is offering online assistance for policyholders via its insurance application, with a 24-hour telephone medical helpline to reduce the number of customers going to hospitals and thus exposing themselves to risk of infection. The Unimed Insurance App gained new features to help people during the pandemic the highlight of which is the Covid-19 Section, which has exclusive contents and tools, as well as 24-hour online information service with which to look for advice in case of doubts or symptoms of the disease safely. Members can also access medical teleservice with a specialist without leaving home straight from the app.

For policyholders with a high-risk profile or who are symptomatic of the virus and have a higher risk of complications the insurer has developed a care programme for customers which delivered by an online service desk.

Seguros Unimed is also using predictive models to simulate the impact of different Covid-19 scenarios on its portfolio and the possible demand for hospital admissions.  So far, these projections have confirmed that Unimed has sufficient hospital beds to serve its customers.

Impact on the health sector

The virus is affecting every aspect of the complementary health system in Brazil says Unimed. Not only has it attacked the population, it has also highlighted and increased the structural weaknesses of the entire national health system in Brazil – which, the cooperative says, is underfunded, inefficient and fragmented. Seguros Unimed reports that many frontline healthcare professionals have been exposed to the risk of contamination.

Seguros Unimed says that the virus will also have an economic and financial impact due to the temporary cessation of activity, with unemployment and income reduction leading to risk of default and claims.