Buying Health Insurance for Parents or Elderly People? Remmeber these Points
In the last couple of articles, I have told you why health insurance is important for parents and what are the tax benefits you get by buying health insurance for your family and parents (see here), but I have not shared any tips about buying the right health insurance. In this article, I am going to fill that gap. If you are buying health insurance policy for your parents e.g. your month or father, you should consider following 7 points before finalizing any health insurance policy.
This is the similar tips I have shared long back about buying the term insurance plans but specially tailored for health insurance for senior citizens e.g. anyone who is more than 60 years of age. The tips are nothing but borne out of practical need and part of my week long research before buying the health insurance for my parents.
I am sharing it for everyone's benefit here. If you come across any other good tips or things one should remember while buying health insurance for parents and senior people, please feel free to share as comments.
Things to remember while buying health insurance for parents
Here are my couple of practical tips and checklist while buying health insurance plans for your parents or elderly people in India. Doesn't matter which company of health insurance you buy, you should check them against following points.
1) Restriction on Maximum Entry Age
First and foremost important thing is to check the maximum entry and renewable age. Many Insurance companies don't renew the policy after a person turned to 70 years. This is not good because you need medical coverage more in those years. You should choose the health insurance policy which provides lifetime renewable e.g. ICICI Lombard complete health insurance policy which has no restriction on maximum entry age and provides a guaranteed lifelong renewability.
We buy insurance to free ourselves from a financial headache at the time we need to focus on care of our loved ones. Insufficient coverage is like no insurance. You need to make sure that plan you are buying covers major critical illness like heart problems or cancer. Make sure you read what is not covered in your policy e.g. some plans only cover hospitalization charges and don't cover pre or post hospitalization. Some cover only hospitalization but no outpatient visits. So choose the plan which provides sufficient coverage in terms of diseases as well as facilities.
3) Network of Cashless hospitals
I prefer a health insurance plan like ICICI Lombard which has a high number of network hospitals where you can avail cashless treatments. Why? because cashless is much better than reimbursement. All you need to carry is your health card and rest will be taken care by hospital and Insurance provider. You should buy a health insurance policy which has a couple of network hospital in your city.
4) Pre-existing illness cover
Most of the insurance company including ICICI Lombard doesn't cover pre-existing illness in first two years after taking policy. If you find choose a policy which covers pre-existing disease or else choose one which cover after 1 or 2 years than the policy which doesn't cover pre-existing at all or take 4 years to provide coverage for pre-existing illness. Since the sole motive of taking a health insurance is protection against high medical cost, you want a policy which covers all kind of diseases.
5) Policy Period
Most of the Insurance company in India e.g. ICICI Lombard, Max Bupa, Bajaj Allianz, Star Health and Allied Insurance, Apollo Munich, The New India Assurance Co Ltd, Tata AIG General Insurance Co. Ltd. etc provides the option of choosing 1 or 2 year policy period as per plans offered. You should choose what suits your need.
Sometimes people buy a policy with a low premium but co-payment option only to repent later. Medical cost is so high in India nowadays that even a 10% co-payment of the bill can range in thousands of rupees. It's not a wise decision to opt for a policy which provides co-payment as % of bills. Instead, you should choose a policy which requires no co-payments for any disease or any hospitalization expenses.
For those people who are new to the concept of Co-payment, It means a certain percentage of every claim amount, which has to be borne by the insured person. For example, a health policy may have co-pay of 20 % on hospitalization expenses taken in a non-network hospital, which means if the insured claims for Rs. 1,00,000 for any treatment availed in a non-network hospital then he will have to bear 20 % of such claim amount out of his own pocket
Some Insurance companies e.g. ICICI Lombard provides incentives for customers who doesn't claim. For example, you get additional Sum Insured for every claim free year. This is good because you really don't want that your premium has gone for nothing, at least an increase in sum assured will benefit you more.
That's all about some of the important things one should consider while purchasing a health insurance plan for his family or parents. The points like restriction on maximum age entry are extremely important because you don't want to buy an insurance policy which stops covering your parents when they need the cover most. Same is true for co-payment, insurance is for peace of point and not to worry about financials, but if you buy a policy with 10 to 20% co-payment, you will always worry about that given high medical bills and hospitalization costs in India.