OMIFALL, a Swedish health insurance product for pregnant women and children, came about as a “mutual dream” between home furnishings icon IKEA and its sister company, Ikano Group. The dream was to create and easily distribute an affordable alternative to high-priced accident and health insurance in Sweden, according to an Ikano expert.
OMIFALL Pregnancy & Child insurance is being test marketed at three IKEA furniture stores in Sweden, and through the IKEA website, says Magnus Fredrikson, head of business development for Ikano Insurance (Ikano Försäkring AB) of Sundbyberg, Sweden. Ikano Insurance is an arm of Ikano Group, a financial services, real estate, insurance and retail purveyor that was once part of IKEA.
Both companies wanted to create a new product that would enhance the lifestyle of underinsured Swedes, Fredrikson says. The child insurance market in Sweden is “quite expensive,” and while multiple insurance carriers there do have similar products available, there’s no lower-priced alternative for “cash-strapped families.”
“We had a close collaboration with IKEA to develop this product from a customer perspective. We share the same vision as IKEA: to create better everyday life,” he says.
“Children are the most important people in the world,” Fredrikson says, echoing the children’s marketing mission statement of both IKEA and Ikano Insurance. In 2013, Sweden recorded more than 200,000 uninsured children. “We want them to be safe. We need to do something about this, so we created this product.”
OMIFALL covers the insured mother and child from pregnancy and birth through time spent in the hospital, then transfers to the newborn. The policy portion regarding pregnancy is, among other things, triggered when an insured woman is pregnant and becomes disabled or admitted to the hospital because of the pregnancy. The policy also includes extra expenses if the mother or child need to stay in the hospital for longer than two days, at a limit of 300 Swedish kronas (SEK300) per day.
“When the child is born, the pregnancy insurance transfers into child insurance,” Fredrikson says. “There are many other things to think about when you have a newborn. This way the child is insured directly after birth.”
Child policies from the big insurance companies in Sweden – where some four or five carriers are covering between 80 to 90 percent of the child care market – are priced somewhere between SEK150 to SEK200 per month, he says. That converts to some USD$20.21 to USD$26.95 (1 Swedish krona = about $0.13). The OMIFALL child coverage costs just 68 Swedish kronas (SEK68), or USD$9.16 per month.
Major health insurers in Sweden include Blue Cross Asia Pacific, Liberty International Insurance, AIG and others.
To create OMIFALL, Ikano Insurance took the most important pieces of higher-priced insurance plans (as recommended by the Swedish Consumers’ Insurance Bureau) and “added a few things to make it easier for the children and parents if something happens,” Fredrikson says.
“Just to be fair, it’s not as comprehensive as the others,” he says of OMIFALL. The higher-priced similar policies often include a refund for the cost of a taxi to the hospital, or reimbursement for damaged clothing related to the policy. “We’ve taken away the small benefits; that’s one of the reasons why we’re able to get the price down.”
The child portion of the insurance policy includes “the most important things a child needs in terms of insurance,” such as compensation of up to SEK1 million if a child can’t work when he or she becomes an adult. “We also offer compensation for a parent who may need to stay home for a longer period to care for the child,” Fredrikson says.
The child insurance portion can be bought for the child at any time until the child is 18, and remains valid until the child is 25. It fills in coverage holes in policies issued by the Swedish municipalities, which provide some insurance when children are at school or day care; however, some municipalities may only cover accidents and injuries when school is in session, or when children are traveling to and from school—not when the child is at home or otherwise away from school.
“You really need child insurance for more severe disabilities and accidents,” Fredrikson adds.
According to the official website of Sweden, Sweden.se, the responsibility for health and medical care in Sweden is shared by the central government, county councils and municipalities. The fee for a typical hospital stay is no more than SEK 100 per day, and patient fees for primary care run between SEK100 and SEK300, depending on the county council; visits from a specialist max out at SEK350 per day.
Pacific Prime, a one-stop insurance brokerage service provider for travelers to Sweden, offers online quotes for expatriates and tourists who may be seeking maternity insurance while in country: a generic policy quote for a 35-year-old pregnant woman living in Sweden ranges from USD$103 to US$791 (SEK770 to SEK5,911).
Sweden’s English-language news site, “The Local,” notes that since January 2010, a patient has been able choose between private and public healthcare for their primary care, which it states is one reason there has been a steady increase in the number of private healthcare providers in recent years.
“The insurance business in Sweden is seen as complicated, boring and expensive. You don’t focus on insurance unless you need to or have to,” Fredrikson says. Ikano Insurance is hoping to use its IKEA store distribution platform to reach new markets and to show people a different way of looking at insurance products.
“The public response has been very positive,” he says. “It’s the first time in Sweden that we’re selling insurance from IKEA. It’s a totally new distribution. It’s quite new and people are not used to this.”