• Increasing worldwide trend towards obesity causes serious long-term health problems and places burden on healthcare systems

  • Munich Re Group proposes solutions for German and international insurers
     

At around six per cent per year1, the global health market is growing faster than most other industries. With its International Health segment, the Munich Re Group has positioned itself to exploit the growth opportunities offered by this market throughout the world. However, the large potential for growth also entails major challenges. Healthcare quality needs to be kept high and costs affordable. The traditional role of health insurers as mere risk carriers is no longer sufficient. The risks also have to be managed adequately. "Taking obesity as an example, my colleagues will demonstrate how we leverage our international experience and competence within the Munich Re Group in order to ensure optimum management of this health risk and its consequences for affected individuals", says Peter Choueiri, Head of Munich Re's HealthCare unit and member of the International Health Board, at the beginning of today's press workshop.

Risk factor obesity

The proportion of overweight and obese people in the population as a whole continues to increase unabated in both industrial and emerging markets. Particularly worrying is the rise in obesity among children. "Compared to today's obese adults, most of whom became overweight in middle age, the coming generation will suffer 20 to 30 years longer from the detrimental effects of excess weight on their bodies, including associated health problems and diseases", explains Dr. Achim Regenauer, Chief Medical Director and Head of Munich Re's centres of competence for Medical Risks Research & Underwriting and for Biosciences. Apart from the physical and psychological consequences of obesity for the individual, it places a major economic burden on healthcare systems.

Prof. Hans Hauner, nutritional physician and Director of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Centre for Nutritional Medicine at the Technical University of Munich, analyses the social implications of the obesity phenomenon. He points out that social measures such as the development of lower-energy foods, higher-quality meals served in canteens and other large-scale catering establishments, and more opportunities for children and young people in cities to engage in physical activities are indispensable for a holistic risk minimisation approach.

Solutions proposed by the Munich Re Group

With its experience and expertise in reinsurance, insurance and specialised disease management, the Munich Re Group is able to develop comprehensive solutions for patients and insureds. "We have identified the impairment to quality of life and the diseases associated with obesity, and are currently developing solutions for the German and international insurance industry", Dr. Franz Benstetter, Head of Munich Re's Healthcare Management Services, says. He explains how case management is used to deal with severe health problems related to overweight and obesity. Dr. Wolfgang Reuter, Head of the Medical Advisory unit of DKV Deutsche Krankenversicherung and Victoria Krankenversicherung AG within the health segment of ERGO Insurance Group, explains the risk and benefit management DKV has in place for overweight and obese individuals. "Special health programmes and consultancy services have already become an integral part of this", Reuter says.

Using his company's well-established programme "almeda Gesund Leben" as an example, Dr. Stefan Kottmair, member of the Board of Management of ArztPartner almeda AG, a DKV subsidiary, provides insights into a tele-coaching programme offering personal support to overweight and obese individuals. "With our programme, we achieve lasting lifestyle changes and weight reduction, thus improving participants' quality of life. At the same time, we reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases", Kottmair says. Rounding off, a participant talks about his personal experience and satisfaction with the concept.

1Source: OECD Health Statistics, Compustat, Bloomberg.

Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft
signed Dr. Strassl           signed Dr. Lawrence

The Munich Re Group operates worldwide, turning risk into value. In the financial year 2006, it achieved a profit of €3,519m, the highest in its corporate history. Its premium income amounted to approximately €37bn and its investments to around €177bn. The Group operates in all lines of business, with around 37,000 employees at over 50 locations throughout the world and is characterised by particularly pronounced diversification, client focus and earnings stability. With premium income of around €22bn from reinsurance alone, it is one of the world's leading reinsurers. Its primary insurance operations are mainly concentrated in the ERGO Insurance Group. With premium income of almost €17bn, ERGO is one of the largest insurance groups in Europe and Germany. ERGO is Europe’s market leader in health and legal protection insurance, and 33 million clients in 25 countries place their trust in the services, competence and security it provides.
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This media information contains forward-looking statements that are based on current assumptions and forecasts of the management of Munich Re. Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the forward-looking statements given here and the actual development, in particular the results, financial situation and performance of Munich Re. The company assumes no liability to update these forward-looking statements or to make them conform to future events or developments.

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