It takes an agent several days, even weeks, to convince a customer to buy health insurance. Yet, 10 minutes at the billing counter of a hospital were enough to persuade Avinash Sharma (see picture).

When the Delhi-based professional visited a friend, who had undergone a minor surgery in a private hospital last month, he was shocked to see the bill at the time of discharge.

“A simple operation and one night’s hospitalisation cost him Rs 1.4 lakh. The cover from his employer covered only Rs 50,000 of the cost,” he says.

We are not surprised. Healthcare costs are rising at a fast clip. According to a survey by insurance consultancy firm, Towers Watson India, healthcare costs in India increased by 13.25% in 2011.