If there is one thing that the Coronavirus crisis has taught the world, it is the importance of having health insurance. Over 113 million people across the world have already come under the grip of the COVID-19 virus with over 2.5 million deaths. The second wave of the deadly virus is said to be even more dangerous and more infectious.
Those who have been infected have had to face a financial setback along with emotional trauma due to the expensive medical care costs. Of those who were hospitalised, less than four per cent had insurance, which meant that the huge treatment cost had to be paid from their pockets, turning their entire financial planning upside down. As per reports, treatment of a Covid-19 patient, without ventilators or other life-saving equipment, costs between Rs 20,000 and 25,000 daily on an average. This translates to Rs 2.8 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh for a 14-day treatment of a patient. And it is not just Covid-19, healthcare costs are on a rise and there needs to be a plan in place to ensure that a health crisis for a family does not become a financial crisis.
Having medical insurance, and with sufficient cover, could be an answer to such unforeseen expenses not only in times of the Coronavirus, but in general as well. A medical emergency could happen at any stage of your life, and hence it is imperative that you have a plan in place to ensure that your other goals are not compromised.
Types of health insurance plans
There are various kinds of health insurance plans available in the market that suit different needs. Let's find out what they are and which one works for you.
Individual cover: An individual health insurance policy, as the name suggests, provides an individual a cover against medical expenses in case of emergencies or even for planned treatments. These plans are ideal for young professionals who are unmarried and are in their 20s and early 30s. Since at this age, they would have lower health risks, they would have the advantage of locking in a big health cover at a relatively lower premium.
Family-floater plan: As opposed to an individual cover that protects only one person, a family-floater plan covers the medical expenses of the entire family which may arise due to any medical emergency. So effectively, you pay a single premium for a single policy, but get coverage for your whole family. Of course, the premium is higher than the individual cover, but much lower compared to a situation where you buy an individual plan for each family member. The sum assured under the plan can be used by any family member who needs it due to a medical emergency.
Critical illness cover: The two health insurance plans discussed so far cover the hospital expenses and pre-and-post-hospitalisation expenses. They do not compensate for the lost income one may incur due to a health emergency. A critical illness cover, on the other hand, covers the policyholder against specified life-threatening diseases like cancer, stroke and heart-related ailments, and provides a lump-sum payment when one is diagnosed by any such ailment. This amount can pay for healthcare costs not covered by traditional health insurance, or can even be used for other purposes as the policyholder may deem fit. A critical illness cover is ideal for those with a family history of critical illnesses and those who are sole breadwinners of the family. It can be bought as a standalone policy or even as a rider with your regular health insurance plan.
Selecting adequate coverage
You compare health insurance plans to carefully select a policy that is right for you, you pick an insurer you can trust and you pay your premium on time. However, when tragedy strikes, you find out that the sum insured that you chose as part of your health plan does not cover the entire cost of treatment. This is a mistake you must avoid, and you can do that by carefully selecting a sum insured that is adequate for you and your family. Here are the parameters that you must consider to select the right cover amount:
Age: Your age plays a very important role in determining the right health insurance coverage for you. If you are young and healthy, you can have a lower sum insured as the risk of acquiring serious ailments is low. As your age increases, you need a higher sum insured to take care of increasing medical expenses. In case of a family health insurance plan, you should consider the age of the oldest member because it would be that member who is most likely to use a higher proportion of the sum insured.
Number of members: In case of a family-floater plan, the number of family members covered under the policy is a crucial factor to select the right coverage. For example, if you are buying a policy for just yourself and your spouse, the sum assured can be relatively lower compared to a situation where you also include your parents and/or children under the same policy. This becomes important especially in case of an infectious disease like Covid-19 which can put you in a position where each member requires medical care during the same policy year. A new policy for Covid-19 can also be bought, apart from Family-floater.
Existing ailments: Based on the life stage you are in, and the kind of pre-existing ailments you may have, you should select an appropriate cover amount. Also, if you have a history of any medical condition in your family, your sum Insured should factor in the possibility of being diagnosed with such an ailment. In a nutshell, those with pre-existing conditions and family history of serious ailments should consider a higher cover which covers the treatment cost of those ailments.
Lifestyle and personal habits: The kind of job and stress associated with it, lifestyle habits, and other personal habits is an indication of an individual's future healthcare needs. Those whose jobs involve a higher exposure to risk should consider higher coverage. For example, frontline workers who had to interact with people constantly during the pandemic were at a higher risk of infection, and should have higher cover.
Place of residence: Healthcare costs vary substantially from place to place, and this should be factored in when you buy an insurance policy. For example, cost of treatment of common ailments and non-critical surgeries is lower in tier-2 and tier-3 cities compared to metro cities. Similarly, the cost of private rooms is also substantially lower in smaller cities. So, those living in metro cities should essentially have a higher sum insured than those living in smaller towns and cities.
Taking the next steps
If you are wondering if there is an easy way to determine the right sum insured for you without getting into its technicalities, you could use a health insurance calculator on the website of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. All you need to do is enter details like the number of people to be covered by the policy, the age of the oldest member and the place of residence, among others. The calculator does the rest and gives you options to choose the right policy for you. If you like the recommendations, you can simply go ahead and purchase a policy instantly in a few simple steps.
It is always better to choose a reliable insurance partner that has a good record of settling claims, including cashless health insurance claims, quickly and with ease. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance is a sound option which offers health insurance solutions of all kinds. Health Guard plan by Bajaj Allianz is one such one-stop solution that offers health insurance for your whole family along with maternity cover benefit as well as newborn baby health insurance. The company also offers individual plans to suit different needs including ayurvedic and homeopathic treatment, day care procedures charges, bariatric surgery, pre and post hospitalization charges, organ donor expenses and ambulance expenses. Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. For more details on benefits, exclusions, limitations, terms and conditions, please read sales brochure/policy wording carefully before concluding a sale.