In this, the last of our 4-part series of insurance-focused articles on cancer, Dr. Achim Regenauer, Chief Medical Officer, presents a high-level overview of how genomic sequencing of cancers is blasting a trail for improved, early diagnosis and precision medicine by providing a powerful and ever-expanding means to detect, identify, subdivide and monitor cancer – and how this remarkable development could impact Life & Health insurers.
Dr. Regenauer’s content is presented in a concise tabular format – so there’s no need for you to wade through complex medical descriptions or interpret sensationalised headlines.
Alongside the observations, Bryce Shepherd, Head of Capabilities Development, Life & Health APAC, adds valuable market insights and solutions relating to how the industry can adapt to these changes to ensure that our products and services stay relevant, valued and sustainable over the next decade.
The availability of genomic sequencing has long been elevated as having huge potential, with many possibilities for positively helping society.
In the Life & Health insurance industry, how we use or plan to use advances made possible through genomic developments in our products, services, pricing and underwriting is still hotly debated. Practical solutions, however, have begun to emerge, e.g., personalised health plans and tailored wellness solutions.
Specifically, in the area of cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, genomic sequencing has opened a door for the industry to help drive accessibility and affordability in areas such as personalised therapies and medicines to improve patient outcomes.
As access to genomic sequencing increases and costs fall, advanced medical techniques have been able to make leaps and bounds; there is no better case than the current Covid pandemic, where genomic sequencing and m-RNA technology facilitated vaccines to be developed and produced in record time.
From an insurance standpoint, this impact is also seen in the widening availability of targeted cancer therapies and associated personalized drugs plans. As these become more readily available via cheaper genomic sequencing, the products we design must keep up to provide access to these cutting-edge, personalised treatments.
The changes we are likely to begin to see first will be in the changing of product definitions and wordings. These may begin to separate product coverages into more specific cancers with the aim of making benefit payouts more aligned to the specific cancer and attributed personalised treatment. Note, this would, however, go against the trend we see today in the simplification of wordings for more customer friendly products.
As research in this field continues to advance, Life & Health products will need to stay in step to ensure accessibility and alignment to the new status quo in terms of cancer outcomes and customer expectations, i.e., a future where the industry sits fully behind genetics and genomic sequencing as part of a holistic cancer proposition and ecosystem to screen, prevent, diagnose and dynamically treat and provide recovery services tailored to the individual.
For this, considerable change will need to happen in how protection products are designed in terms of the definitions (i.e., triggers), structure and adjoining value propositions (i.e., the services provided). Underwriting will correspondingly also change, fundamentally evolving from its current cohort-based, retrospective approach to be more personalized, dynamic and data-driven.
At PartnerRe, for example, we are in the process of developing an innovative, flexible multi-pay benefit solution that would align benefits to an individual’s evolving diagnosis and treatments/outcomes over time.
Evolving product wordings to accommodate new, genetically defined cancer subclassifications and implementing impact/therapy-aligned solutions like the one mentioned above could, however, both go against the grain in terms of simplifying coverages and improving customer satisfaction. How such dynamic, personalized coverages are presented to and interacted with by the customer will be key. As we go through this evolution, it is also paramount to consider how products are redesigned to protect as much as possible against the ‘unknown’, i.e., building with flexibility and future proofing in mind.
This area holds so much promise and potential for advancing the health of societies – it’s hard not to get excited about the look and feel of the propositions of the future.
As we in the industry focus on creating the propositions to meet that potential, we must do what we do best – have clear views of the risk, lower or spread that risk through intelligent product innovation, and at the heart, provide increased value to the customer.
PartnerRe has the expertise and a keen interest in innovative cancer propositions. We look forward to a conversation around your protection product suite and how cancer benefits may evolve.
This is the last article in our 4-part series on cancer advances. If you missed any of the previous articles, these contain many interesting insights and discussions, and are all available to view on the PartnerRe website, covering the topics of: global trends in cancer, cancer diagnostics and targeted cancer therapy.
Our approach is one of partnership, shared expertise and the creation of success for our clients.
We look forward to discussing these trends and concepts with you, and to turning them into concrete solutions for your business.
Bryce Shepherd, Head of Capabilities Development, Life & Health, APAC