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Costa Rica’s State Insurer Loses Market Share

For the first time since the opening of the insurance market in 2010, the State insurer, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS), has lost its dominance in the health insurance segment, which is now led by Pan American Life Insurance.

Pan American Life took 40% of the revenues generated by sales of medical insurance policies at the end of June this year.

According to data from the Superintendencia General de Seguros (Sugese) – Insurance Superintendency – the INS accounted for 38% of the business, followed by Aseguradora del Istmo (Adisa) with 6% and the first time the State company cedes majority ownership in a branch of this business in Costa Rica.

Between January and June of this year, revenues from the sale of health insurance policies totaled US$76 million, an increase of 19% over the first half of last year. Nacion.com reported that “… Health policies are part of the voluntary insurance segment, an area in which there is a group of 13 competing companies.”

Elian Villegas, executive president of the INS, confirmed that “… the health insurance business has been completely reformed, due to a cumulative loss of US$50 million in the period from 2012 to 2016. ´In this line, we were losing a lot of money. We had to make a decision if we kept market share and lost US$10 million a year, or we changed the product. In the end, we modified the policy’.”

Distribution of the health insurance market in Costa Rica according to the Sugese as of June 2017

At Comercial de SM Seguros (Seguros del Magisterio), general manager Carlos Jiménez said that in health insurance there is a strong growth option, faced with many medical needs unsatisfied by the State social security, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) or Caja.

“Given that the Caja provides appointments in the very long term and people require more accessible and immediate medical services, is why they are looking for new alternatives,” said Jiménez.

Manuel Salazar, manager of BlueCross BlueShield (Triple-s), commented that the INS remains a major player in the health insurance segment.

“We seek to strengthen the offer of health insurance to fit the budget and the needs of the local market,” said Salazar.

Triple-S had 2.8% of the health premium market in June 2015, growing to 5% this year, according to Sugese.