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Simply Save | Why health insurance premiums are on the rise and what you can do about it

You can look at health policies with co-pay or sub-limits to keep a tight lid on premiums, but do note that such restrictions will also lead to inadequate coverage.

May 13, 2022 / 05:01 PM IST

Health insurance has acquired immense importance over the last two years, as COVID-19 put tremendous pressure on not only the healthcare personnel and facilities in the country, but also household budgets of patients and their families.

Not surprisingly, many Indians realised how critical an adequate health insurance cover can be in times of crises, which is evident from  the 25 percent jump in health insurance premiums in 2021-22.

On the flipside, the extraordinary claim burden in the last two years, coupled with rising healthcare inflation, has pushed insurance companies to hike their premium rates. Premiums of group health insurance policies, the ones that employers offer to their employees and families, have already risen in April. According to a Marsh-Mercer benefits survey, employer-sponsored medical benefit costs in India are expected to increase by 15 percent in 2022.

Similar will be the case with individual health policies too, as insurers seek the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India’s (IRDAI) nod to hike their rates. Industry-watchers say this is primarily due to increased COVID-19-linked claim burden over the last two years and also rising healthcare inflation.

Also read: Explained: Health insurance premiums set to get costlier; how policyholders can keep their premiums in check  

While hikes are expected across all age-groups, the impact is likely to be particularly harsh for senior citizens due to advanced age and pre-existing illnesses. To understand how they and also other policyholders can deal with imminent premium hikes, Moneycontrol’s Preeti Kulkarni spoke to Saurav Basu, Head of Wealth Management at Tata Capital. Basu has over two decades of experience in the financial services space. Prior to joining Tata Capital, he headed retail businesses across product categories at Citibank. Since 2018, he has been spearheading Tata Capital’s wealth management business that also includes life and health insurance advisory.

Some key takeaways from the discussion:

  • “COVID-19 has led to an increase in the number of claims health insurance companies have received. The percentage of people who were hospitalised increased over two years.”

  • “Cost of hospitalisation has gone up. Annual healthcare inflation in India is more than 15 percent, much higher than the government of India’s estimate of 9 percent.”

  • “These two are among the key reasons for increase in health insurance premiums. This year, insurance premiums can go up by 15 percent.”

  • “Customers in higher age-brackets or those whose lifestyles may not be healthy would be affected more than younger or healthier customers.”

  • “Your health insurance cover should at least be equal to your health expenses over the last 2-3 years. You should look at a minimum cover of Rs 10-15 lakh.”

  • “If renewal premiums are unaffordable, look at Arogya Sanjeevani policy, plans with co-pay (where you have to pay for a part of your hospitalisation bill), sub-limits (room-rent or disease-specific), while and senior citizens can consider dedicated policies tailor-made for them. However, these are not comprehensive options.”

  • “Children with elderly parents should take top-up cover and self-funded parental coverage if their employers offer such options.”
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 13, 2022 05:01 pm