Aetna International enters Indian market

The international arm of US-based Aetna acquired Indian Health Organization Pvt Ltd. (IHO), a company offering Indian consumers access to medical and dental care through a credentialed provider network. Aetna intends to use IHO’s 80,000 customers as a base for expansion in the Indian market. Its network of healthcare providers consists of 3,000 doctors, dentists, clinics and labs, as well as preventative care and wellness programs.

Commenting on the acquisition, Derek Goldberg, Managing Director of Aetna’s South East Asia division, said, “India’s growing health care market presents tremendous opportunity. The out-of-pocket medical spending in India is more than $30 billion annually, which is more than 60% of the total health care expenditure in the country. The service offered by IHO targets that direct consumer spending on health care by providing access to primary and preventative care.”

Visham Sikand, IHO’s co-founder and business development head, said, “as a global leader in health care, Aetna has the expertise and resources to take IHO’s business to the next level. I am excited about the prospects of making quality health care and wellness programs more affordable and accessible for consumers in India.”

The Indian insurance market is fiercely competitive, with numerous local and international insurers vying for market share. Premium income is projected to reach between USD350-400 billion within the next decade, though a combination of de-tariffing and tough competition have squeezed many insurers’ margins.

Companies mentioned

Aetna is a US-based health benefits company. It offers a broad range of products to both individuals, employers, university students and expatriates (through Aetna International). Aetna delivered strong first quarter results in 2011 (earnings per share of USD 1.43). Nonetheless, analysts expect this to drop off rather sharply through the rest of 2010 – consensus estimates forecast earnings of USD 1.06 in Q2 and USD 1.03 in Q3.