The year 2020 will forever be associated with the pandemic that affected the world. Without a vaccine in sight, COVID-19 continues to loom around the world, affecting millions of people at an alarming rate. Currently, India has ramped up its testing centers, but continues to struggle with increasing cases. The outbreak of a disease such as COVID-19 has highlighted the need for health insurance and created more awareness about it being a necessity for future situations. Until this point, health insurance has never been considered a must-have for families.
It is important to keep yourself sheltered from illnesses and also financial shocks. The repercussions of not having a health policy are very high in such a crucial time. If you are uninsured, the options to go after in case you find a family member sick during this time are bleak. This makes it imperative to explore health insurance options now, so that you focus on your health and not the costs if someone were to fall sick. Regardless of whether you’re insured, figure out your health insurance options to access affordable healthcare.
Factors to consider while selecting a health cover
Buying a health insurance plan, irrespective of age, is a smart move to make. An investment in health insurance in the early years of life is rather beneficial and serves its purpose at a later stage. However, while finding a cover, it is important to acknowledge some of the following points before opting for a policy.
-Look for coverage options: Make sure that you’ve a clear understanding of what is and isn’t included in the cover. Explore Mediclaim/Family floaters, COVID-19 focused policies, comprehensive health insurance policies, critical illness plans among others
-Enlisted hospitals: It is always better to know the network of hospitals your cover will provide access to and check if you will be reimbursed in case you seek treatment in an institution outside the enlisted network
-Compare plans: Comparing the health plans available in the market is very important to decide if such policies fit your requirement
-Faster Claim Settlements: Claim settlement is the ‘Moment of Truth’ for any insurer and hence the insurer’s claims settlement ratio must be checked. This, along with the average time taken to settle the claims, will assure you on the potential of the company to settle claims swiftly and easily
-Co-pay, sub-limits, room rent restrictions: You must ensure that the policy clearly states these limits, if any, and ideally opt for a policy with no capping on room rent and no sub-limits on diseases/procedures
Selecting the right insurance policy:
Once you have a clearer idea about what you’re looking for in a policy cover, make sure that you understand the various policies available and whether the cover you choose meets your specified individual or family needs.
Comprehensive Health insurance Policy: If you can afford, you should consider more comprehensive health plans that cover COVID-19 or any viral infection, 30 days from the inception of the policy. Comprehensive health plans will cover you for hospitalization expenses resulting from acute or chronic illness and even accidental injury
Individual Health plan: It must be bought in the name of each individual – spouse, children, parents etc. This means, the premium will be as per each individual's age as well as their respective sum insured and doesn’t affect other family members if one individual were to make a claim
-Family Floater Health plan: Essentially, more than one member can be covered under one policy with a sum insured that will cover all members in the family
-COVID-19 specific policy: All health insurers are offering the IRDAI- mandated standard indemnity health policy Corona Kavach. However, those looking for a short-term policy may consider Corona Kavach. The price point for this policy is lower than a comprehensive health policy and can be bought to protect only against COVID-19 for affordability reasons
-Critical Illness Plan: Critical illnesses are always associated with an increased cost of treatment along with a long and expensive recovery process. Therefore, these policies are designed to meet long-term financial support, as they pay the insurer a lump-sum benefit on the diagnosis of the listed Critical illnesses under the policy
-Top-up plans: Top-up or Super Top-up health plans are indemnity plans with higher sum insured, in case the hospitalisation expenses cross a specific threshold limit called the ‘deductible,’ which is opted for by the customer while purchasing the policy. Typically, one should opt for a super top-up health plan to enhance the existing coverage. Top-up policies are reasonably priced, making them affordable and useful in the event of a high-value claim
The Corona Kavach policy should not be taken as a substitute for a normal comprehensive health cover.
A healthcare system is pretty challenging to navigate in the best of times. The task is a bit more tedious during a pandemic. It’s wise to invest in one of the policies to ensure that your savings don’t take a major hit in case of an unforeseen health emergency.(The writer is President - Accident & Health, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company)