Smart Tips for Buying a Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan During a Pandemic

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During the pre-covid period, the number of people who bought full insurance plans was around 32%, whereas today, after being hit by one of the biggest pandemics, that percentage has climbed to 55%.

The whole world is still grappling with the massive impact of the pandemic. The vaccines developed by many countries, including India, have appeared as a beacon of hope; However, the second wave of the pandemic overwhelmed the available health infrastructure and also placed an immense financial burden on patients and their families. It has become difficult for many to access appropriate care in these dire circumstances.

With the prevalence of contagion for over a year now, consumers are beginning to realize the importance of health insurance; However, most of them only opt for COVID-related policies which may not be adequate. Dealing with medical emergencies at times like these can be difficult. Besides illness, the financial burden could prove to be a nightmare for people with life-threatening illnesses. It is in the best interest of individuals to purchase comprehensive health insurance policies to save themselves from situations like these.

There has been a significant increase in the adoption of health insurance purchases over the past year. According to reports from the General Insurance Council, health insurance reached a market share of 29.5% with a growth rate of 13.3% through March. Market experts believe the uptrend will continue as speculation is rife that the pandemic will not abate anytime soon. While it is heartwarming to witness this aroused interest, it is pertinent to note that buyers need to make an informed decision. They don’t have to rush to buy inappropriate plans with inadequate coverage.

Important things to check

Buying an insurance plan is always advisable. Although old age is not an obstacle, it is always better to take out an insurance plan early in life, as it can be of great help in old age. There are certain things that should be checked when deciding whether to purchase an insurance plan.

Analyze the coverage options: Insurance plans have various advantages and each may have its own limits and terms of coverage. Buyers should understand the offers and be fully aware of what is covered and what is not. When purchasing disease-specific policies, one should also be prepared for the emergence of other diseases that may place a financial burden on the customer.

Hospital network: Health insurance plans provide information on enrolled / networked hospitals where insurance coverage is applicable on a cashless basis. It is in the buyer’s best interest to know which nearby hospital would provide cashless treatment as provided by their insurance company.

Claims settlement rate: The claims settlement rate is one of the deciding factors to learn about. The buyer should also try to understand the average time taken by the insurance company to settle claims, whether cashless or reimbursed; because it is an important service parameter.

Compare the packages: Buyers should compare the plans provided by different service providers to select the most suitable plan. Insurance aggregators have made it easier for consumers; however, they must exercise their discretion when making the final decision.

Room rental restrictions or any other prerequisite: It is relevant to understand the preconditions or clauses that may affect the services used before making a choice. The buyer should know if there is a cap on the room’s rent or a sub-limit on the procedures.

Choose the font that’s right for you

Once the buyer is sure of the requirement of an insurance policy, the next step is to choose the policy that matches their scheme of things. Knowing whether the policy would meet individual and family needs can help decide the next step.

Individual health plan: “Individual health plans” are specific to people; consumers should buy them after considering the needs of each individual. Older people may need a different plan while a young person may opt for a different plan. Individual plans must be purchased on behalf of each beneficiary with a different premium requirement for each individual.

Family floating plan: These plans cover more than one family member without any additional insurance premium requirement, i.e. with a predefined composite premium. Parents, spouses and children can be covered by these plans.

Critical illness insurance plans: Diseases that require a longer healing time and a high cost of treatment fall under “critical illness plans”. These policies help the buyer to get long term financial help because they are given a fixed amount when diagnosed with these diseases.

Covid-19 insurance plans: Since the pandemic outbreak, insurers have offered a standard compensation policy to cover the costs of treating COVID-19. Known as Corona Kavach, these are short term plans that do not cover other illnesses.

Complete packages: Comprehensive health insurance policies cover hospital costs for acute or chronic illnesses. They cover accidental cases and provide insurance coverage for viral infections like COVID after 30 days of policy purchase expire.

Recharge packages: Plans that provide additional assistance if hospital expenses exceed a certain limit are called “supplemental plans”. It is advisable to make an informed decision while opting for insurance policies. While seeking coverage for particular illnesses may seem like a profitable idea, one should choose to invest in comprehensive policies, as these policies can also come in handy for other unforeseen illnesses or conditions.

(By Ajay Shah, Director and Manager – Retail Sales, Healthcare Medicare (formerly Religare Medicare)

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