The cost of healthcare is on the rise, and so are the types of ailments plaguing Indians these days. With increasing pollution, stressful lifestyle, and the popularity of junk food, lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cholesterol, kidney and liver issues, and cardiac disorders are rampant. The onset of such conditions at a young age is going up. Surgeries, organ transplants, chemotherapy, and such other medical procedures can leave a massive dent in your pocket. Medical emergencies can strike any moment, are you sufficiently equipped to meet the expenses?
What is the current healthcare scenario in India?
Medical science has advanced, and innovative technologies have ensured that treatments or palliative cares for almost every disease are available these days. However, are those treatments accessible to all? Sadly, facts indicate otherwise. Studies1 by the National Sample Survey Office suggest that an overwhelming proportion of the Indian population cannot afford proper medical intervention due to a lack of money. People deplete their life savings, take expensive loans, or even sell assets to meet the treatment costs. The rising cost of medical care makes things worse.
How to make healthcare accessible to all without compromising financial security?
The answer is Health Insurance. When you buy health insurance, the insurance provider guarantees to cover expenses that you incur for medical treatments and hospitalization due to an illness or injury. Your health insurance policy takes care of miscellaneous costs like medical tests, doctor consultation fees, medicines, hospitalization charges, and even post-hospitalization care. The medical care provider is paid directly by the insurance company if there is a tie-up between the company and the provider. In case there is no tie-up, you may have to pay yourself at first, and the insurer reimburses you later.
Reasons for getting a health insurance
The need and importance of health insurance cannot be emphasised enough. Medical inflation has been on the rise globally2. As diseases become more common, the need for healthcare services increases. Without adequate health insurance, you may need to use your savings or rely on loans to pay for medical emergencies.
- Changing lifestyle: Modern lifestyles, sedentary jobs, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of time to exercise or cook healthy food have contributed to an increase in the number and types of illnesses. Health insurance provides a safety net, offering coverage for medical emergencies and unexpected health conditions arising out of poor lifestyle habits. In addition, health insurance can help you cover regular check-ups, preventive care, diagnostic tests, treatments, surgeries and medications to ensure you live healthy and get the right medical attention at the right time without worrying about the costs
- Rising medical costs2: The increase in the cost of healthcare can be burdensome for most people. Illnesses that require specialised care or long-term treatments can be even more financially straining. It can be hard to cover the expenses out of your savings and taking loans can put you in a spiral of high-interest settlements for years to come. This can impact your financial goals like retirement, a child’s higher education or a house purchase. Health insurance ensures you do not compromise on your other goals and are able to tackle rising medical costs
- Coverage of pre and post-hospitalisation expenses: Health insurance not only covers hospitalisation costs but also takes care of pre and post-hospitalisation expenses. You can use your health insurance coverage to pay for diagnostic testing, doctor consultations, medications, Outpatient Departments (OPD), rehabilitation treatments, such as physiotherapy and more
- Additional benefits: Your health insurance needs can go beyond the seemingly essential health expenses like hospitalisation and medicines. Ambulance costs, periodic health check-ups, vaccinations and other similar expenses can also take a toll on your finances. Health insurance can help you cover all of these additional expenses
- To protect your savings: An unforeseen illness can deplete your savings in a short span of time. You may be forced to use up your savings and investments as well as contribute all of your monthly salary to treatments, medicines, consultations and more. Health insurance can protect your savings and provide access to quality medical care
- To safeguard your family: The need for health insurance is critical for all individuals, irrespective of their age and gender. Health insurance plans can protect your entire family, such as your spouse, children and parents. You can choose a family plan that covers your family members under a single premium. This can help you safeguard all your loved ones conveniently and simply
What are the benefits of health insurance?
Health insurance is not just for the individual insured. You can obtain a cover for your family members as well under the same scheme. The cover offered under group Insurance may not be sufficient if you have four or more members in your family, and corporate insurance plans provided by your employer may not have an adequate sum-insured. To stay prepared for meeting escalating healthcare costs, health insurance is invaluable. Here are the benefits of buying health insurance:
- Cashless hospitalization: Most insurance providers have tie-ups with major hospitals across the country, and if you avail of medical care at any of those hospitals, your treatment will be cashless
- Added benefits: Some health insurance providers cover the costs of transportation via ambulance, expenses incurred for up to 30 days before or 60 days after hospitalization, maternity expenses, and even alternative therapy costs under your health plan
- No claims bonus: If you do not place any claims in a year, at the time of renewal of the policy, you can be awarded a bonus. For example, a percentage of the sum insured may get added to your annual sum insured during renewal
- Medical check-ups: You can regularly monitor your health with free health check-ups provided by some companies at designated healthcare centers. Thus, your policy helps not only in a cure but in prevention as well
- Family health protection: Not just you but also immediate family members dependent on you like your children, spouse, parents, and siblings can have a health policy. You can take proper care of the health of your loved ones with the right health insurance plans
- Tax savings: As per the Income Tax Act, 1961, you can get tax deductions* for the premium you pay for your health insurance plan under Section 80D
- Financial security: With a good health insurance plan, you can stay assured of prompt financial help in times of your need. You are always ready to pay for medical expenses, without having to draw in your savings, which helps you stay financially secure for the future
- Benefits of fixed health insurance plans: With such plans, you receive the money upon diagnosis without having to submit any hospital bills. Moreover, the money is paid to you without being subject to any sub-limits on expenses such as room rent, hospitalization charges, etc
- Rider protection for various life-related uncertainties: Health insurance plans offer enhanced financial coverage with riders. You can add a number of health riders, such as disability riders, maternity and childcare riders and more, to enjoy increased financial protection in diverse situations
- Additional cover above employer health insurance: A lot of companies offer health insurance to their employees. While this is a great benefit to have, such plans may not always be adequate to offer you comprehensive financial coverage. Most employer-provided health insurance plans provide a small insurance cover. In many cases, you may also be unable to add your loved ones to the plan. Moreover, you risk losing all benefits if you quit or lose your job. Buying a different plan can take care of your health insurance needs and those of your family members. These plans can also be customised to your specific needs and preferences
- Safety against rising medical costs: With medical inflation rising by the day, it can be hard to save for healthcare emergencies2. A health insurance plan is an affordable way to access healthcare in your hour of need. Health insurance plans offer substantially high insurance covers that can be used to cover the costs of small and big medical expenses ranging from regular medicines and health check-ups to hospitalisation, surgeries and long-term medications
What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining health insurance in India?
Age – Although there is no set age criterion for buying health insurance for yourself or your spouse it is advisable to get health insurance early in life. Costs or premiums tend to be lower at a young age.
Disclosure of pre-existing ailments – If you are suffering from medical conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, you will need to inform the insurance provider in advance.
What are the documents required to get health insurance?
- Age proof
- Pan Card
- Identity proof
- Address proof
- Passport size photograph
Health problems, accidents, and other medical issues can be tough to deal with emotionally as well as physically. When the person who is the bread-winner falls ill, it can get even more challenging for the family. A robust health insurance policy can help you sails through those difficult times keeping your finances intact. You can compare deals online and buy the plan that best suits your requirements as soon as possible and stay prepared for eventualities at all times.
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* Tax benefits under the policy are subject to conditions under Section 80D and other provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Goods and Services Tax and Cesses, if any, will be charged extra as per prevailing rates. Tax laws are subject to amendments made thereto from time to time. Please consult your tax advisor for details, before acting on above.
2 2023 Global Medical Trends Survey - https://www.wtwco.com/en-gh/insights/2022/10/2023-global-medical-trends-survey-report.