Mexico is the second largest economy in the Latin America and Caribbean region and is currently facing a number of serious health issues. For example, 70% of the population is overweight, while the OECD estimates that 40% of adults will be obese by 2030. This translates into an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Compounding the problem is the fact that Mexico’s healthcare system has serious limitations in the provision of quality services in terms of primary care, which is provided by overstretched public institutions or, increasingly, by doctors in pharmacies.
To address this situation, AXA Mexico is launching a major project to transform the local health market, through the development of an affordable and user-friendly private health system. Benoit Claveranne, CEO International and New Markets, commented: "Today, healthcare is about much more than providing care – it’s about providing a seamless, affordable, quality and accessible health journey, especially in emerging markets."
Daniel Bandle, AXA Mexico CEO, gave us some insights about the opening of Mexico’s first primary care clinics.
What are the main challenges facing Mexico’s population in terms of healthcare?
Daniel Bandle: In Mexico, private insurance cover works very well for major medical expenses such as treatment for chronic illness or cancer. However, it’s a different story for primary care, by which I mean medical consultations with GPs or specialists, and other services such as blood analysis or X-rays. These costs are rarely covered by the insurance market and are paid directly by patients.
Currently there are two ways to access this care: through public hospitals, which are covered by the state’s social security system but are oversubscribed; or through GP consultations in pharmacy chains, which creates conflicts of interest.
Health expenditure today in Mexico’s private insurance market represents only 4 billion euros. This is in stark contrast to social security expenditure, which accounts for 20 billion euros, and the 22 billion euros that Mexicans spend on healthcare from their own pockets, which is covered neither by social security nor private insurance. AXA wants to play an important role in filling this gap.
You are planning to open primary care clinics to tackle these challenges and improve healthcare access in Mexico. How will these clinics work, and what’s the rollout plan?
Daniel Bandle: Three new primary care clinics open in July, to be followed by five more by the end of the year. They provide high quality healthcare which is also affordable, because the service is included as part of a patient’s insurance coverage or through a healthcare plan. These clinics are part of AXA’s vertical integration health initiative for emerging countries.
The model is simple: a patient makes an online or phone request for a consultation and is then given an appointment at one of our clinics. Here, a doctor assesses the patient and provides the necessary care or makes arrangements for tests. A wide range of services is available on-site as our clinics are equipped with many diagnostic tools such as imagers, scanners and laboratory facilities. Follow-up care is then provided after the consultation, which is a major step forward as the current system is not set up to enable such monitoring. To summarize, AXA’s new health ecosystem is based on accessibility, affordability, quality care and continuity.
Choosing the right locations for the clinics has been key, as we needed to be in areas where we could quickly obtain access to large healthcare networks. Mexico City was therefore chosen as the first phase of the project, and other major cities will soon follow. The goal is to open 50 clinics in the country in 5 years, to reach 1 million patients.
The initiative is a joint venture between AXA and Keralty, a Colombian company, which will be responsible for running the clinics. Keralty already operates such clinics in several countries and we are convinced that our companies complement each other well. Thus, the primary care system will be branded AXA Keralty.
Why is this program in line with AXA’s healthcare strategy?
Daniel Bandle: Today, AXA Mexico is already the second largest health insurer in the country, but the company focuses on major medical insurance. The new, integrated health system will complement our existing offer. It is in line with our mission statement “to better protect more Mexicans”. This joint venture with Keralty will enable us to expand our health offer in the country, specifically to new customer segments, which are currently underserved in terms of insurance. The initiative is at the crux of AXA Mexico’s healthcare strategy as it is aimed at serving wider population segments, while at the same time embodying our transition from payer to partner.