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Nippon Life offers cancer insurance in China

Coverage includes treatment in Japan

TOKYO -- Nippon Life Insurance has begun selling health insurance that lets Chinese policyholders receive cancer treatment in Japan as part of their coverage.

As the number of Chinese cancer patients grows, more are said to be seeking high-quality treatment in Japan. The Osaka-based insurer hopes to tap into rising demand for medical tourism among affluent Chinese consumers.

Insurance policy sales will be handled by Nissay-Greatwall Life Insurance, a joint venture between Nippon Life and the Chinese government. Nippon Life holds a 30% stake. In addition to cancer treatment, other costs such as travel and lodging will be covered by the insurance.

Emergency Assistance Japan, a medical intermediary company, will obtain medical treatment visas and select hospitals that fits patients' wishes and needs out of a roster of 1,000 partner institutions in Japan. Nippon Life will pay the hospital fees, alleviating any concerns the medical facilities may have regarding payment.

Nippon Life aims to sign up around 20,000 policyholders in the first fiscal year, earning 50 million yuan ($7.25 million) in premium income. The company hopes to write about 100,000 policies in the next three years.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in China, according to data from 2010, with the percentage apparently on the rise in recent years. Just 30% of patients live five years after diagnosis, a result of an outdated health care system. In Japan, the survival rate is 70%.

China's life insurance market ranks fourth in the world by revenue, trailing the U.S., Japan and the U.K. But most policies sold in the country are whole life or annuities. Japanese providers Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance and Sumitomo Life Insurance also operate in China.


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