Choosing the right health insurance plan for you and your family is a serious decision as health is the only true wealth and it provides you peace of mind and sense of security not only for yourself but for your family too. It assures you that you can always offer them the best chance of getting well just in case anything goes wrong.
Many of us buy health insurance with the sole objective of saving tax but fail to consider the importance of buying a comprehensive medical insurance plan. More than 80 percent of financial crisis originate out of a medical emergency and the same can severely damage one’s finances. Health emergency will not only require funds for treatment but for most of us will also hurt our ability to earn thus hitting us with a double impact. Imagine losing a family member because you cannot afford to give him the best medical treatment. So, health insurance is a must today.
With increasing healthcare costs, the reason to get health protection as early as possible is gaining importance because once we get some issues like BP, Diabetes the chances of getting a health cover go low and the cost goes high. There’s nothing more satisfying than to pay a small price and get peace of mind.
The 10 rules to keep in mind when you buy health Insurance:
RULE 1. Have an individual health insurance
You must have an individual health insurance even if your company offers you a corporate group health cover. There could be a possibility that your corporate cover will cease once you leave your job or retire and the company may also decide to withdraw this benefit or choose to leave other family members out of the coverage. If one is suffering from a chronic disease, this becomes more important. You can even take a Super Top up if you can’t afford a full individual Mediclaim.
RULE 2. Choose the right amount as ‘sum insured
While selecting a Sum Insured you need to keep the today’s costs in mind. If you are the one who is living in a small city then your aim of cover should at least be ranging from Rs.3 to 5 lakhs whereas if you live in a metropolitan than your cover should not fall anywhere less than Rs. 5 to 10 lakhs. Also, you can move from one insurer to another through porting. Don’t buy a new plan but instead port your plan. With porting your benefits which have been already accumulated in the old plan gets transferred to the new plan. Also remember to keep on increasing your health cover from time to time to take care of the medical inflation.
RULE 3. Get early protection
Buy a health cover as early in life as possible and definitely before you turn 40. As you are likely to make no or few claims in earlier stages of life, you can get the benefit of no-claims bonus and add up to the original coverage every claim-free year.
RULE 4. Lifetime renewability
Buy only a health cover which gives you lifetime renewability. Your aim is to have a health cover at older ages when you will have ailments and that protection is possible only if your policy offers lifetime renewability.
RULE 5. No Claim Loading
Never buy a health insurance policy which has a claim loading. If you get a critical illness which requires long term cure then with a claim loading your premiums will keep on increasing and soon may become un-affordable. So, don’t fall into that trap.
RULE 6. Restore Limit Option
Buy a policy which gives you a restore limit or super top up just in case you fully utilize your sum assured. This will act as a buffer to cover some unforeseen critical illness which may be very costly to manage like cancer etc. For example, a Rs 5 lakh plan with a Rs 5 lakh restore limit almost gives you Rs 10 lakh cover for critical illness at no extra cost.
RULE 7. Buy through a reputed insurance broker
Always buy your insurance through a reputed insurance broker with an ability to help you with claims. Remember if you are having a heart attack or have an accident you won’t be in a position to do it yourself or fight the insurer if your claim is rejected without proper justification. Never buy direct and never buy online. You can use online to select a plan or study features but only buy the health cover though an entity which according to you has the ability to help you with the claim.
RULE 8. Don’t hide any Information
Never lie and hide information in your application form. If you have an ailment please make sure you mention it. Get the broker to help you get a plan which will cover the ailment even after a waiting period. Today in most the plans all pre-existing diseases also get covered after 3 to 5 years depending upon the plan.
RULE 9. Waiting Periods
All health plans have a waiting period for pre-existing ailments. Please see what is the waiting period in the plan that has been suggested to you. Waiting period generally extends from 2-5 years varying from company to company. It is always advisable to opt for a company that offers minimum waiting period. Also, there are some companies which offer you coverage’s with lifetime exclusions. Exclude such companies from your options.
RULE 10. No Sub limit plans
Buy a plan with no or minimal sub limit. Be especially careful of plans which offer a cap on room rate. You can’t decide the category of the room if you or your family member is carried in an emergency situation to the hospital. Watch out for Sub limits. Sub-limits means that your insurer specifies a limit for an expense and anything above that needs to be borne by you, Room rent, diagnostics and doctor’s fees are the most commonly introduced sub-limits. You need to check the limits while choosing a policy.
Some small additional things that you must keep in mind. Make a list of preferred hospitals where you will like to be cured. Does the plan offer cashless in those hospitals and are those hospitals covered in the insurers list of network hospitals. The reason I have not put this in the main rules is because as of today most of the insurers covers most of the good hospitals, so this should not be a major challenge.
I wish that by following the above rules you are able to choose the best policy and offer the best of life to yourself and your family.
By Sanjiv Bajaj- MD, Bajaj Capital