Turning 30 is one of the important milestones of your life. You might have just got married or might be planning to have a child or might have a family to take care of already. At this significant phase of your life, it is crucial to make sure that you and your family have a health insurance plan to help you manage a cash crunch or pay up for an emergency medical situation. Certain surveys have revealed that the major chunk of our country is not covered by a health insurance plan. This could be because people are not aware of the importance of insurance protection. Hence awareness about medical insurance is being spread so that people understand the need for health insurance. If you have a medical insurance plan, you need not burden yourself or end up in debt when you are diagnosed with a critical illness or meet with an accident. It is also essential that you buy the right health insurance plan.
Here a few questions that you should ask yourself before buying a health insurance plan:
How Much Cover do I Need?
Choosing the sum insured is one of the most important decisions you will have to make when you buy a health insurance plan. The sum insured is the total amount that can be claimed in case of a medical emergency. This amount will cover the entire family for a period of one year, so calculate the sum insured you require based on the number of people who are going to be covered, the ages of the family members, their medical history, and your future plans.
You will have to pay a nominal amount called the premium to the insurer to provide medical protection to you and your family. The premium amount depends on various factors and the main factor being the sum insured. Hence, when you choose your sum insured check if the premium payable is affordable. But do not save on the premium at the cost of the sum insured.
You could consider buying individual plans instead of a family floater. If you opt for an individual health insurance plan, the sum insured is available solely to you. On the other hand, a family floater policy will offer the sum insured to all members covered under the plan. You can decide which type of policy to purchase based on the ages of your family members, number of members that require a health insurance cover, and the total premium charged by the insurer, etc.
Another factor you need to consider while buying a health insurance plan is the future enhancements. Your current requirement could be low but the situations might change. So consider opting for a top-up or a rider that could cost you extra but will prove to be a blessing later.
What are the Features I Should Look Out for?
Each medical insurance plan will have different features depending on whether it offers complete medical protection or is for a specific purpose like personal accident care or cardiac care. You should ideally opt for the plan that best suits your needs and the needs of your family members.
- Cashless hospitalisation: This benefit is typically available only in the empanelled hospitals of the insurer. The policyholder/family member will have to intimate the insurance company about the planned or emergency admission to such hospitals. The insurance company will then ensure that it pays for all the treatments and surgeries undergone during hospitalisation.
- Pre and post hospitalisation: A few plans cover the expenses incurred before and after hospitalisation too. The number of days up to which this benefit can be availed differs from plan to plan.
- Medical check-up: Most plans reimburse the charges incurred on the pre-medical examination that is conducted before the policy is bought. A few plans sometimes provide free medical check-ups throughout the policy period too.
- Lifetime renewal: The lifetime renewability option will be helpful in the future because critical illnesses and other major health conditions are diagnosed only during old age. So it is a good idea to purchase a policy when you are young, in order to foot bills at a later stage in life.
- Cumulative bonus: If you don’t make a claim during a policy year, a few insurers offer something called the cumulative bonus. The bonuses accumulated over the years may be added to the sum insured or can reduce the premium payable.
- Maternity benefits: In most cases, policies specify a certain waiting period before completion of which, maternity benefits cannot be availed. Read the sub-limits of the policy to ensure you do not miss out on such fine details while buying the medical insurance plan.
Which Insurer Should I Choose?
The market today has a gamut of health insurance companies. The availability of such a wide range of options could leave you confused. However, certain factors could help you narrow down on a few insurance companies.
- Network hospitals: Availing treatments in network hospitals will give you the benefit of the cashless facility. So you could choose the insurer that has in its network a high number of hospitals or hospitals near you and the ones you prefer visiting.
- Claim process: You should ideally choose the insurer who has good customer support. Communication with the insurance company while making claims is imperative. Choose the insurer that has a quick and a hassle-free claim settlement process.
- Waiting periods: Certain pre-existing diseases, surgeries, maternity benefits, etc. have waiting periods. Make sure you read the sub-limits and exclusions before buying the health insurance plan.
With rising lifestyle illnesses and medical costs skyrocketing, buying a medical insurance plan is a necessity today. Though it could be hard on the pocket, it will be beneficial in the future. Also, policyholders can avail tax benefits under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961.