Things to Know Before Buying Health Insurance Plans
The spread of Covid-19 in early 2020 led to massive economic losses across the globe. The loss of life was worse, with over 5 million deaths as of end-November 2021, as per the World Health Organization.
Obviously, the inquiries for and sale of health insurance plans have picked up in the last two years. The Indian insurance companies even came up with Covid-specific insurance plans. If you, too, are on the lookout for a reliable health insurance policy, you must take note of the following points before you make the final choice.
Rising cost of healthcare
While healthcare costs are bound to increase in a pandemic due to demand exceeding the supply, the Indian healthcare sector has seen costs going up even before the pandemic came into the picture. In 2018, for instance, a study highlighted that healthcare costs were to rise at double the rate of inflation.
So, while the overall inflation rate could be around 5-7%, the inflation in healthcare could be somewhere between 12% and 15%. This trend can and should worry us all, as this means that any serious ailment can eat into your savings accumulated over many years.
Importance of Sum Assured
While buying an insurance policy, the premium amount is the headline that most buyers focus on. The usual thought process is to get the lowest possible premium. Even though this approach has its benefits, focusing on premium alone could end up in a disaster. The reason being that if someone is focusing on premium alone, then the sum assured is not being paid attention to.
Ideally, identify your needs and settle for a sum assured that will be sufficient for your needs at least for the next few years, taking healthcare inflation into account. Once you have identified the sum assured, then start looking for policies, and subsequently, you can create a shortlist based on other factors.
Getting health insurance or even taking steps to get one is commendable. However, many people commit the mistake of applying for health insurance after the need for it has already come into the picture. For example, many people try to get health insurance when they decide that it is time for them to start a family.
The idea here is to get maternity and associated costs covered in health insurance. However, such people are greeted with the term ‘waiting period’ to their surprise. The waiting period is the time-period after the policy is issued in which certain specified treatments are not available under the insurance. Maternity, knee replacement, cataract, are among the common treatments or procedures that have a waiting period.
Sub-limits and exclusions
Other than the waiting period, there can also be ailments or conditions that a health insurance policy does not cover. It is crucial for you to know all these details before you sign on the dotted line.
Then, other than medical exclusions, there are also some sub-limits on some health insurance policies. For instance, some policies cap the room rent in case of hospitalization. Some other policies could ask you to co-pay a certain percentage of the hospitalization bill.
Track record of insurance company
This is probably the most important aspect. Even if the premium charged by an insurance company is very low, if the claim is rejected when the need arises, the savings in premiums would be of no use. On the contrary, if the premium is a little high, but the insurance company has a strong track record of honoring claims, it can be a big relief in times of medical emergency. Moreover, a good company will also have minimum restrictions in the form of exclusions or sub-limits.
Take note of the above-mentioned aspects to shortlist and then choose the health insurance policy that suits you the best. Be careful that you are not under-insured, as that can also have the same result as being uninsured altogether.