DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Health & Education
Executive Vice-President & GM, ARS Palic
Andrés Mejía is a Colombian surgeon/doctor and health economist with 20 years of experience in risk management and health and social security insurance.
Ours is a company that stands out for its vast experience in the sector and its strong economic and financial backup—we are the partner-company of Grupo Financiero BHD and Grupo Sura. These are two business groups highly recognized in their respective countries, which decided to enter the Dominican market during a period of reform in the health insurance sector, as they foresaw many business opportunities. This is the oldest company in the insurance sector in the Dominican Republic; however, the company underwent a rebranding process in the early 2000s, from which ARS Palic was born in 2003. The firm was established as a result of the groups’ social commitment to this country. In this context, we have been the fastest growing company in the market over the past five years, which has made ARS Palic the leading institution in many segments of the insurance sector, having enabled us to gain trust and a strong reputation throughout society.
Being part of such a strong financial group has given us a boost in terms of reputation and recognition among many individuals and companies from day one, as well as market positioning. Also, being a partner of Grupo Sura—a key player in the development of the health sector in Colombia—has given us other competitive advantages, such as know-how.
The current GDP share of the insurance industry is around 1.3%, which is smaller than our regional neighbors. For that reason, the insurance market in the Dominican Republic offers much future growth potential. That 1.3% in our country could easily be doubled. In fact, I would add that the health insurance segment is one of the fastest growing and offers the greatest potential; 10 years ago, health insurance represented just a small segment of large insurance companies, whereas today it is larger than the general insurance segment, which is why there are companies solely dedicated to this particular line. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when talking about the health insurance segment; 65% to 70% of the income of companies similar to ARS Palic comes from social insurance. For that reason, we must work on educating people about insurance, and our development is tightly linked to the expansion of the labor market in the country. Therefore, as levels of informality in the economy decrease, the sector will grow. In this context, we are working toward that goal with the authorities and various other institutions. However, that is a common goal at the national level, because the informal economy still represents 55% of the overall economy. Additionally, as per capita expenditure grows, so will the sector.
The current balance of our income is 65% from social insurance and 35% from private plans. However, high levels of inflation are impacting our products and those of the entire health insurance sector.
Currently, we have over 5,000 service providers, though the standardization of their processes is rather complex. However, we hold daily meetings with both service providers and clients in pursuit of excellence, one of our key goals as a company. Additionally, we continuously apply international protocols to improve the quality of our services and products, and we carry out internal controls to the highest quality levels. We train our employees in this field to strongly develop those processes in-house. I think this is another of our competitive advantages nowadays.
The relationship between ARS Palic and its clients is built through several other agents. However, we have positively worked to become closer to clients, while respecting the work of our agents. In this context, we carry out hundreds of activities every year at the premises of those companies to build such bridges. Additionally, we have subscribed the company to many social events and activities in the social sphere related to the prevention of health hazards and diseases. For example, we became involved in activities and health campaigns that concern the whole world, such as breast cancer prevention. ARS Palic is very concerned about this disease, and we decided not to charge any co-payments to patients undergoing a mammography. Finally, I would like to highlight our large investment in PR and marketing to get closer to our clients. Also, we have deployed mobile units for people to better learn how to conduct self-controls to prevent breast cancer with highly qualified doctors who dispense advice. This is just one example of the kind of activities we carry out to make ARS Palic well known and stand out in such a competitive industry. Since 2009, we have also been official patrons of Operation Smile, an international foundation that aims to reintegrate into society disadvantaged children suffering from cleft palate or lip problems, through free reconstructive surgery. With this project, we have given smiles to more than 400 children.
Our future plans include providing continuity to the organic growth process we started some years ago, maintaining our leadership position in the industry, and increasing our market share—we currently have a 21% market share in the private sector. Also, we will continue updating our services and products to meet the demands and needs of the market, all while continuing to invest in technology across all of our processes. In fact, I would like to highlight the fact that we are the only ARS in the country offering its own interactive mobile app to our customers. Finally, we will also expand our national branch network to better cover the geography of the Dominican Republic, and our clients.
© The Business Year – November 2013
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