Ant Financial has launched a new cancer-focused health plan on mutual aid platform Xiang Hu Bao to serve the growing number of senior citizens in China.
According to the company, the product hopes to better serve elderly users by establishing a separate mutual aid plan that focuses on cancer treatment. It does not cover other critical illnesses.
Online mutual aid is an increasingly popular low-cost health care product founded on the idea that when one person falls ill, everyone shares the burden. On the Xiang Hu Bao platform, which can be accessed via Alipay, members of the senior health care plan contribute less than RMB 1 per case, the company said, but at present there is no cap in the number of cases. The contributions are due twice a month, and each member is eligible for a one-time payout of up to RMB 100,000 (around $14,700), depending on the number of cases and severity of diagnosis.
The general health care plan that Xiang Hu Bao launched in October caps members’ monthly payments at RMB 188.
Individuals aged 60 to 70 years are qualified to enroll if they meet certain health conditions, and the assessment will be based on past cancer-related health records. The company told TechNode that the health plan implemented a “risk management model” to help with the assessment of health conditions, but it did not specify what the sort of data they use.
Xiang Hu Bao users can enroll their elderly parents to the health plan and fees can be deducted directly from their Alipay account.
Xiang Hu Bao, which has amassed more than 50 million users since its launch in October, and similar online mutual aid platforms has been causing quite a stir in China’s healthcare industry. Tencent-backed “insurtech” company Waterdrop Inc., which runs one of the largest mutual aid platforms in China, recently reached unicorn status after operating for three years.
Mutual aid platforms like Xiang Hu Bao appeal to those traditionally underserved by the existing health care system. They provide low-cost critical illness coverage options for those who struggle to afford private health insurance.
Update: This article has been updated to include details about the plan’s contribution and payout.