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EF: Facing a transformative year in 2024, what are the key priorities for Bupa in Mexico?

FLM: Bupa is more than just an insurance company; it is a comprehensive health management company with a wide range of services. Our mission is to generate not only insured clients but also to foster the development and promotion of health. Established in 1947 to promote health, Bupa is committed to expanding its presence in Mexico. This expansion has transformed our product portfolio, with nearly 50% of sales now from national products. Our goal is not just growth but also to positively impact Mexico's healthcare industry by offering effective, user-friendly products and embracing digitalization.

To enhance healthcare services, we aim to establish seamless communication between insurers, doctors, and patients through technology. The acquisition of Vitamédica, a TPA with a vast network of medical providers and a robust customer service platform, has allowed us to grow our simpler insurance products. Additionally, we purchased our first hospital in Mexico last year, leveraging our knowledge and experience to expand further in the market.

Our primary objective is to improve health in Mexico, where preventive care is not adequately covered. Mexico has two types of coverage: major medical expenses for illness and limited preventive medicine through ISS. With our recent acquisition of an ISES license, Bupa is now prepared to offer preventive coverage, addressing health issues before they arise. We believe the best cure is prevention, and we are dedicated to meeting local needs with a comprehensive health offer focused on preventive medicine.

EF: How do you see the advance of digitalization in the country, and how can it be used to generate a better bond with patients and expand access in Mexico?

LM: We always put the client at the center, using digitalization to enhance their experience. This involves improving the financial aspect (the insurance itself), prevention, technology, and relationships with suppliers. The client interacts with the insurer administratively, while the insurer manages supplier relationships. Digitalization and technology are integral to this process, streamlining medical care and integrating hospitals, our app, and the insured to simplify procedures.

One of the major challenges in Mexico is the complexity of insurance. While some manual and physical processes will remain, technology will optimize the rest, and we are leading the way in these advancements. Artificial intelligence and other technological innovations are among our most valuable tools.

EF: How does Bupa transfer its model to encourage people to adopt healthier habits and promote prevention measures and early diagnoses in Mexican communities?

LM: The main problem in Mexico is that people only visit doctors when they are already sick. Culturally, Mexicans do not prioritize preventive care, and we must change this behavior through education. We have identified a critical need: currently, 50% of health spending is out-of-pocket. This indicates that people are already seeking medical care, so we should transition to an insurance model that offers the same cost but increases access to preventive care.

Our healthcare model is comprehensive: Bupa's specialists are interconnected, addressing issues related to bad habits, information, and genetics—a crucial area for identifying and preventing future health problems. However, genetic prevention is still underdeveloped in Mexico.  

When Bupa identified Mexico as a strategic country for improving health—our main objective—we realized our capabilities align perfectly with the country's needs. The process of change is long and requires collaboration among all health companies. The current situation persists because the industry has adapted to the existing model rather than innovating. While all stakeholders have legitimate interests, we must work together for the common good. Competition minimizes mediocrity, and in this area, Bupa moves best; we love challenges to change health.

EF: What are the necessary pillars to create a road map to build a long-term sustainable health system?

LM: Improving health will always be a sustainable plan, but all the actors must be considered. Insurance companies have clients who pay for their services, creating both financial and healthcare relationships that need to be comfortable and secure.

For a system to remain sustainable, collaboration among all players is crucial. When the balance tips too far in one direction, stability is compromised. Therefore, effective connection and integration within the system are fundamental. In Mexico, the system is fragmented; for example, hospitals and doctors often operate independently, adding complexity.

To build a financially sustainable system, we must enhance collaboration and integration, leading to greater efficiency and better patient care. Improved efficiency not only strengthens the financial aspect but also enhances the overall service quality.

EF: Considering Bupa's different projects to generate comprehensive health solutions for Mexicans and its current growth, where do you see the company in five years?

LM: In five years, Bupa aims to implement a comprehensive model that accompanies patients throughout their healthcare journey. This model will ensure clients are aware of all preventive measures and focus on improving their health through information and support. Our integrated approach, which includes hospitals, doctors, and dental clinics, provides added value by offering faster and more efficient services, ultimately enhancing health outcomes.

Our successful Spanish model, known for its comprehensive and quality care from the patient's perspective, will serve as a blueprint. In this model, hospitals have a structured hierarchy with a head of service who oversees patient care, participates in committee discussions, and directs necessary actions.

We aspire to replicate this model in Mexico within five years, focusing on system integration and developing partnerships with healthcare and commercial entities. We are actively seeking collaborators who can contribute to this goal.

EF: How do you balance your portfolio in Mexico, considering the high prevalence of chronic diseases and the opportunity to explore health plans with other private companies?

LM: Our recruitment strategy is based on addressing markets, channels, and products according to their specific needs: identifying how to reach the market, which channels to use, and what products to offer. In Mexico, the corporate sector is significant, with 60% of the 9% of policyholders coming from corporate backgrounds. Companies are increasingly interested in preventive health to ensure their employees' well-being, so strengthening relationships with these companies is crucial.

By focusing more on preventive health, Bupa can enhance its collaboration with corporations, moving beyond major medical expenses and disease treatment. One of our challenges is to integrate preventive health into the corporate world. For chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, we have introduced patient monitoring within our app. This is vital as patients with chronic conditions need ongoing support.

EF: Why is a dollar better invested in Mexico than anywhere else?

LM: Mexico has immense growth potential and demand. Every dollar invested in Mexico will undoubtedly allow for a larger economy than other countries. In Mexico, every dollar has a greater impact; it can reach more places with a greater-scale economy due to the vast opportunities available. With only 9% of the population insured in the private sector, there is substantial room for profitable investment. While innovation is global and immediate, it is particularly promising in developing economies like Mexico, where there is ample scope for new projects.

Mexico's government supports business initiatives, providing a conducive environment for investment. This, combined with the country's logistical and technological advancements and the talent of Mexican professionals, positions Mexico to become the new hub of Latin America.

EF: If you had to create a startup in Mexico, what would you like to do, and in what sector?

LM: I would undoubtedly choose preventive health with a digital component. In Mexico, approximately 87% of the population has access to the internet, there are more mobile lines than citizens, and technology is close to everyone. The two components are ideal for a startup, and there is demand and a need, and the country is prepared.  

EF: What makes Bupa a special place to work? How do you attract young talent to the company?

LM: Bupa offers a dynamic and challenging work environment, encouraging us to propose and implement bold initiatives. Although launching projects can be complex, the opportunity to innovate makes it worthwhile. I value working in health, a fundamental concern for everyone, and I feel fortunate to dedicate my time to this field.

At Bupa, we prioritize the health and well-being of our employees, offering flexibility and support. During the pandemic, we quickly adapted to remote work and continue to offer flexible work arrangements. Bupa excels in the health sector, providing opportunities for creativity and teamwork, which are essential for success.

June 2024