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Health Insurance

Points to keep in mind while buying health insurance for parents

India has a great demographic advantage – we are a nation of youngsters, with about 65% of Indians below the age of 35 years. Our bright youngsters are making great strides in all areas and are contributing to the growth story of the country. However, to pursue better education and job opportunities, more and more young Indians are now staying away from their hometowns. One of the ever-pressing worries of these youngsters is the well-being of their aging parents, and among the top concerns is how to handle the situation if their parents have a medical emergency. The insurance industry understands how important it is for everyone to ensure that their parents are healthy and fit. To address these concerns, the industry offers health insurance plans and riders that take care of the specific needs of senior citizens. This article highlights the factors that one must keep in mind while buying health insurance for parents.

A comprehensive policy with adequate sum insured:

With age, the risk of various ailments and medical issues increases, and medical inflation is increasing at an unprecedented rate. A comprehensive health insurance plan helps handle medical emergencies without marking a dent in your pocket or your parents’ savings. You should ideally look for a policy offering wide coverage with an adequate sum insured. Please remember that a policy with a low sum insured would not help during an undesirable event. When narrowing down the sum insured amount, do keep in mind the cost of inflation as well. A certain sum insured might seem apt today, but it might not be just enough a few years down the line. Medical inflation needs to be accounted for and an increase in the sum insured every few years is recommended.

Look out for waiting periods and sub-limits

The other crucial point to keep in mind is about the waiting period for pre-existing diseases. Pre-existing diseases refer to ailments or health conditions that policyholders have before buying health insurance. Typically, insurers impose a waiting period on such ailments and the insured can file a claim for the said condition only after the waiting period is over. The waiting periods in a policy designed especially for senior citizens are relatively lesser than in other policies. You should look for policies with reasonably lesser waiting periods. Additionally, do have a close look at the sub-limits in the policy. Sub-limit is a capping placed in a policy – this cap is explicitly expressed as a fixed amount or as a percentage of the sum insured. So while the policy sum insured may be Rs 5,00,000, the sub-limit for ailment ‘A’ may be Rs 50,000. It implies that for penalty ‘A’, the maximum liability of the insurance company will be Rs 50,000. It is crucial to take note of sub-limits, as a policy with lower sub-limits may bring down the premium, but it will also restrict the coverage and increase out-of-pocket expenses.

Search for domiciliary hospitalization

This refers to the situation when the insurers cover the cost of home treatment, in extreme cases where the insured cannot be admitted to the hospital or due to a lack of beds in the hospital. The cover is subject to certain conditions, which may vary from insurer to insurer. This cover becomes quite useful for senior citizens as they are more likely to meet a condition where hospitalization may become difficult.

Hospital network of the insurers

Insurers empanel various hospitals in their network across the country for cashless facilities. Do have a look at the hospital network of the insurer. The list of network hospitals is available on the insurer’s website. The insured gets the benefits of cashless claims settlement in the network hospitals. Choose an insurer who has a good network of hospitals in the city where your parents reside, this will help in a hassle-free claim settlement.

Club the policy with apt riders

Today, the insurance industry offers several very useful riders, which help you further strengthen the base policy of senior citizens. These riders have handy features like home care services, which include physiotherapy and nursing care, medical teleconsultation, ambulance services and a fall-detection facility, to name a few. The devices used to track fall detection notify the service provider in case of a fall, who would then send emergency support services to help the insured. Such innovative services help the insured get timely care and attention, which goes a long way towards smooth recovery and solves the worries of the children or relatives of the elderly. You can also opt for a wellness rider, which will cover preventive health check-ups, lab tests, tele-consultations. Additionally, you can opt for a top-up and enhance the coverage. Top-up plans are designed to boost the base plan by offering additional coverage over and above the base policy at a nominal premium.

Why should you opt for a separate health insurance plan for parents? The age of the eldest member determines the premium of a family floater health insurance; covering parents in the family floater plan will substantially increase the premium. For example, if you are 30 years old, your spouse is 29 years old, and your mother and father are 62 and 64 years old, respectively, the premium will be calculated based on the age of the most senior member – in this case, the father. The other primary reason is that if one of the parents suffers from a significant impairment, a large chunk of the sum insured or the entire sum insured might get exhausted, leaving the other members without sufficient cover or no cover at all.

Please note that like any other policy, the health policy for parents also has an entry age. The entry age may vary from insurer to insurer, but it is usually from the age of 55 years to 80 years.

Keep these critical points in mind when you search for health insurance for your parents. Good health insurance coverage is probably one of the best gifts you can give to your parents. It will ensure that their life savings are not spent on paying for medical bills. Health insurance will bring them peace, better access to quality medical care and a worry-free life.

(The writer is the managing director and chief executive of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance)