Expert advice

Jun 30, 2017,11.32 IST

Thinking of buying health insurance? Choose the right plan for you!

Pankaj Mathpal

Most of the times, financial crises originate from medical emergencies which can take away all your savings within no time. Health insurance plan can help you provide an assurance of security for yourself and your families. Medical emergencies can also reduce an individual’s ability to earn, hitting his family with a double financial impact. Imagine losing a loved one, because you are unable to afford their medications. Health insurance is a must today, however, with so many choices available, choosing the perfect health insurance landscape is a tricky business to navigate. In order to help you with this modern day necessity, we have listed a few points that everyone should consider before buying a health insurance plan.

Plan to have your own Policy

Buy your own health insurance plan, even if you are covered under group insurance of your employer. There is always a possibility of you leaving the job or your company changing its employee health benefits policies or they may plan to stop covering your family members – especially older ones like your parents. So, ensure that you buy your own health insurance policy. Otherwise, you may not have the cover when you need it most.

Choose Adequate Sum Insured

Ensure to keep the inflation as a critical component in consideration while deciding the sum insurance under your policy. If you live in small town, sum insured of Rs 3 to 5 lakh may be sufficient for you but you must have a larger cover if you live in a metropolitan region as the hospitalisation costs are high in big cities as compared to a smaller town. Apart from the place you live, your lifestyle, occupation, current health status and family history etc. are the major factors which will help your determining the sum insured under the plan. Also, keep increasing your health cover year after year, considering the inflation in health care space.

Buy Early Renew Regularly

Buying health insurance at an early age is always better. With advancement in age chances of getting lifestyle or age-related disease are higher and then you may have difficulty in buying one for you. This will also allow you to benefit from a no-claim bonus in claim-free years. Some plans offer you no claw-back of the bonus even if you claim in the subsequent year which will help you getting higher sum insured. Buy a plan that allows lifetime renewal. This will help you attain medical benefits, lifelong even in your older age. Pay the premium on time to avoid chances of losing cover.

Consider a Plan Offering Reload of Sum Insured

Imagine what will happen if you need hospitalisation and the sum insured falls insufficient as a result of previous claim in the same policy year. The feature of reload of sum insured will help you in such a situation to get an additional sum insured for your health needs.

Disclose all Important Facts

Don’t take a shortcut and hide any ailment in your proposal form. Disclose all material fact related to your health, habits and occupation. Today, most plans cover pre-existing diseases with an applicable waiting period. This waiting period for existing diseases may vary from 36 months to 48 months. Non-disclosure of critical information may lead to rejection of claim and cancellation of policy.

Opt for Plans with Minimal or no Sub-limit

Be careful about the sub-limits in the plan. Sub Limits specifies the insurer's expense limit, which if exceeded needs to be borne by the policyholders themselves. This can include room tariff, doctor fees or diagnostics charges etc.

Rewards for staying fit

Everybody wants to stay fit but what if your insurer rewards you for it. For instance, Aditya Birla Health Insurance's 'Activ Health' plan rewards you for staying fit and healthy and these rewards are accumulated in the form of HealthReturns. These are cash equivalent rewards which can be used for health related expenses like buying medicines and pay for diagnostic tests, day care treatment, out-patient expenses (OPD), alternative treatments (which are traditionally excluded) or most importantly can use it towards the payment of future premium.

You should compare all the benefits and features offered by various insurers before signing the proposal form but premium should be the last thing to compare. Newer plans are available with loads of benefits like coverage for day care treatment, health check-up program and worldwide emergency assistance services etc. With portability options available, you can consider switching to these plans from your existing plan. All benefits accumulated in your exiting plan will get transferred in your new plan.

(The writer is founder and MD of Optima Money Managers.)
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