If you are looking for the best health insurance policy in India for your family, this post should help you make the right choice.
Healthcare has become expensive these days. The problem is that we are never really sure when we might need health care insurance.
Even a short stay in a hospital for a minor procedure can cost a packet.
More often than not, I find people spending a lot of their hard earned money on medical treatments and procedures that could have been covered with them choosing an insurance policy well beforehand.
Many of us make plans regarding our health insurance, but often we delay it or postpone purchasing a policy.
We feel we are healthy and don’t need to spend money on health insurance.
For all you know, we might pay the premium for a health insurance plan in India, and never even make a claim for many years.
You will be writing cheques to the insurance company every year as a premium, but you don’t use it ever.
It might feel like a waste initially, but when the time comes and you need it, it can be a boon.
It is strongly advised these days to have a substantial health insurance cover. This holds true especially if you live in the urban parts of India.
There are so many insurance policies out there. How do you choose the right health insurance policy for your family in India?
I spoke to Mrs. Monalisa Barua from Max Bupa Health Insurance, and this is what she had to say.
Best Health Insurance Policy In India – How To Choose
Okay, so here are some simple things to look for. Remember, your premium can change depending on the cover you wish to take.
Why Should I Take Out A Health Insurance Policy?
‘Health is wealth, they say. With hectic schedules, late hours, rising pollution, food contamination and fast paced lifestyles among others, health has become a major concern like never before in this country. It is common knowledge that while the overall life expectancy has increased in India courtesy advanced medical facilities, the number of diseases affecting the young populace have also been on the rise in the past decade or so‘, says Mrs Barua.
We are more frequently seeing patients of a younger age group with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Interestingly, more and more younger women also seem to be affected by these problems.
‘While the causes for a decline in the overall standard of health may be varied and debatable, there’s no denying the need for health insurance across various age groups. With medical inflation, many citizens are increasingly turning to health insurance policies to avoid huge medical bills during emergencies‘.
When Should You Take Out A Policy?
There is no real ‘right time’ to take out a policy. The moment you think of it, you should try and take out one.
‘It is always advised to plan for health insurance early because you never really know when an emergency situation will strike‘, says Mrs. Barua.
‘Time and tide wait for no one, goes the old adage. The right time to buy a health insurance policy is the moment you realize that your health costs may only escalate in the future owing to the overall rise in the cost of living among other factors’, she goes on to say.
This is very true. many admissions to hospital are ‘unplanned’.
Time and again I have encountered patients who come with an illness that requires hospitalization, only to find out that they do not have health insurance coverage.
By taking out an insurance policy, one may not worry about payment in the hospital and can concentrate on taking rest and getting better.
How Much Cover Do You Need?
Firstly, you need to understand your needs. You need insurance, but how comprehensive a cover do you need? Do you need to include all your family members?
Are there any hereditary diseases that run in the family? Do you have a chance of getting any of those?
‘First, your health cover should be at least 50% of your annual income. And second, the insurance cover should at least cover the cost of a coronary artery bypass graft in a hospital of your choice. Most personal finance experts recommend a minimum health cover of Rs 5 lakh‘, says Mrs. Barua.
Now, you may have heard of the term ‘pre-existing disease’.
This term is mentioned in the form when you fill them out for insurance purposes.
In simple terms, pre-existing disease refers to a medical condition that already exists or has taken place at the time of application for health insurance.
‘The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has mandated a maximum of four years after which one’s pre-existing diseases need to be covered by the policy but generally, health insurance companies cover it much earlier as well’, says Mrs. Barua.
A good idea is to talk to an agent and see what they recommend. Try and find a plan that has a lesser waiting period for pre-existing diseases.
Make sure you get a comprehensive cover if you can afford it so that all your family members (including children) are covered.
Choose The Right Amount Of ‘Sum Assured’
The sum assured refers to the amount that the insurance company will definitely pay out should you need it.
It is advised by most companies to choose a higher sum assured.
While it may sound like it is a ‘ploy’ for insurance companies to make money, it, in fact, has a lot more benefits than you think.
Let us say you take out a policy for health insurance for Rs 2 Lacs. If you have a heart attack and require an angioplasty, you may need to spend around Rs 4 Lacs, depending on where you are admitted and how many stents you need.
That’s an additional 2 lacs out of your pocket! You could have had that covered by just paying a slightly higher premium.
Let’s look at it from another perspective.
If you choose a higher sum assured, you will save up later on money you might need for the wedding of your children, an opening of a business or even buying a vehicle.
Is There A Family Floater Plan?
If you are looking to cover a number of family members on one policy, you may want to look for a ‘family floater’ plan.
Generally, the premium for such plans is lower, while the sum assured is higher.
Anyone who is registered on the plan can be covered when they are ill.
‘When buying health insurance for you or a loved one, you have the option of buying individual policies or buying one single health policy that covers all of you. A family floater plan is meant to cover the entire family under a single insurance policy and the amount of sum insured ‘floats’ over the entire family‘.
Family floater health plans usually cover the primary insured, spouse and children, who are dependent on the policyholder (usually a maximum of 2-3). However, some insurance providers do have a provision to cover extended family as well.
Even senior citizens can be included on a family floater plan, though the premium might be a little higher.
Also, look for a plan that will allow you to renew it as you get older. This ‘age-renewal’ is very important.
Better Claim : Settlement Ratio
When looking for the best health insurance policy in India, make sure you look out for their claim : settlement ratio.
When you claim insurance, you want to be assured that the amount will be settled hassle free.
Look for a company that has a higher claim : settlement ratio. In other words, look at the reputation of the company among the general public for fulfilling settlements once a claim has been filed.
Better Hospital Network
Most insurance companies will have their network of hospitals that they will cover without any problem.
Choose a health insurance policy that has a good network of hospitals covered. Also find out if they would, in the times of an emergency, cover any other hospitals should you need to be admitted there.
Who Says What About The Insurer?
Reviews matter. It helps you make up your mind.
If someone you trust gives you a recommendation for a health insurance policy, then you will likely take it as well.
However, when applying for a policy yourself, you may be confused.
Take a look at reviews online for the companies. Find out what others who have taken the policy have said about the insurer.
‘Never blindly trust someone for a health insurance policy, always do a background check‘, says Mrs. Barua.
Do the reviews match your expectations? Do you really think that what you have found is the best health insurance policy in India for your family?
If yes, then the policy is for you. If not, keep shopping around.
I hope this helps you choose when you are looking for the best health insurance policy in India for you.
I would like to thank Mrs. Barua from Max Bupa Health Insurance for her valuable insights into this.
If you would like to learn more about Max Bupa Health Insurance plans, send us a message through text or WhatsApp on 08073701151 (between 10 am and 6 pm Monday – Friday) and we shall get her team to contact you.