How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan
It is a well known fact today that medical costs are on an unprecedented rise - the inflation in medical costs has gone from 6-7% to 15 % over the past one year alone. A health insurance report released by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority or Irda of India published back in 2011 suggested that the medical expense claims for major diseases reflected a compounded annual growth of 17%. Thus, an efficient health insurance policy has become an indispensable investment in today’s day and age.
This has led to increasing awareness, especially within millennials. People are beginning to look beyond the tax benefits of a health insurance policy. Although the tax benefits are definitely a good motivator to invest in a health insurance policy, this approach often makes people invest in a policy that offers maximum tax benefits but makes them lose out on actual medi-claim benefits. Hence, tax benefits are just one of the many factors that should influence your investment decision.
Another issue marring the health insurance market in India is the fact that most people working in major companies feel the insurance benefits provided by the employer are enough. This leads to a lack of personal interest and investment in the policy itself. However, you need to keep in mind that corporate coverage lasts only as long as your employment contract. This realization is often lost behind the smokescreen of all the benefits you enjoy without having to pay anything in case of a corporate health insurance plan.
The smart way to go about this is to evaluate your personal needs and invest in a separate health insurance policy instead of depending on the office group plan.
The market is flooded with companies offering you different policies, each one sounding more attractive than the previous one. However, all that glitters might not be gold and thus, making a well-informed choice becomes extremely important. We hope the following pointers help you take that first step in the right direction.
WHY invest in a Health Insurance Plan?
Let’s start at the beginning. Why do you need to spend your hard earned money on an insurance policy which hopefully, you won’t need to cash in for the entire duration of the term?
The answer is as simple as the age-old proverb - prevention is better than cure. Although, in hindsight, it probably isn’t the best way to promote a health insurance policy. The point we are trying to get across is that being prepared for any medical emergency is better than lamenting later on. Today’s fast-paced world, full of with pollution and the innumerable health problems affect hundreds of people on a daily basis - especially in metro cities. You never know when you might need to pay hefty medical and hospital bills.
And, given the drastically high prices of medical care in recent times, judging by the statistics given in the beginning of this article, a single trip to the hospital could well be enough to wipe out your entire life savings. The pre and post hospitalization requirements can also cost you thousands of rupees in medicines and other seemingly insignificant expenses. There are a couple of other compelling factors that should push you in the direction of buying health insurance, like the following:
- A good health insurance plan prepares you for any unplanned medical emergency
- It covers the high-end cost of medical care on your behalf
- The premium of health insurance policies is usually cheaper than the actual cost of treatment
- The claim process is usually simple and hassle-free
- Your claims stand a better chance with a trusted insurer
How to choose a coverage amount
It is obviously advisable to go for a plan that offers maximum health coverage and maximum amount for the treatment to offset sky-high medical costs.
Family Floater Plan?
As wonderful as an individual health plan is, everyone wants to ensure that even their family members enjoy the benefits of a health insurance policy. But buying a separate plan for each member can be financially exhausting. Thus, investing in a family floater plan is considered advisable to save valuable money. The interesting thing about a family floater plan is that not only are the premiums lower but usually, the sum offered is also higher as compared to individual health insurance policies.
Be precise with your calculations
Always consider your age while choosing a health plan. For younger people, risk is less, and so is premium. Once you hit 40, though, your needs will evolve, and your health plan needs to reflect that. This also means that you need to focus on buying a plan that offers maximum age renewal - or simply put, one that you can renew in your golden years.
Also, once you are married, your health plan should take into consideration both you and your spouse’s age and health conditions.
Choose the minimum waiting period for any existing illness
Every health insurance policy comes with its own set of terms and conditions regarding pre-existing illness. Usually, there’s a waiting period for you to become eligible for medical benefits and coverage for any illness that existed before the plan started. The time period can range anywhere from 2-4 years. It is, of course, advisable to choose a plan that offers a minimum waiting period.
Consider the sub-limits offered
Most health plans come with predetermined sub-limits on daily medical expenses, such as room rent in case of hospitalization, or ambulance charges. Choose a plan that offers you the highest slab on the same.
It is advisable to compare the different premiums and offers online before making any decision.
Compare before investing
The premium amount should always be compared with health insurance policies offering a similar set of benefits. This will ensure that you get the maximum benefits out of your health insurance policy.
Before investing in any health plan, make sure you consider the network hospitals covered under the plan terms. Network hospitals refer to a group of hospitals that allow you to cash your current health plan. Always go for a plan that offers the maximum number of network hospitals in your area. Otherwise, your investment would avail to nothing in times of emergencies.
Mind the exclusions!
Just as a health plan covers a set of diseases, they also are entitled to exclude some others. Thus, before making any purchase, you should consider carefully all the medical ailments and conditions not included in the plan. This will help save you an unnecessary headache in the future.
Online purchasing should always be done after going through the reviews. This rule applies to everything from groceries to even health plans. While researching your desired health plan online, make sure you go through the reviews given by previous and existing users. This will give you a clear picture of the reality behind the claims offered by your insurer and help you make a smart investment.
Thus, a health insurance plan is just like any other investment and should be given the due time, consideration and research. Keep these basic pointers in mind before choosing your next health plan so that when you’re going through tough health issues, how to pay for your treatment is not an additional worry you need to deal with.