Buying health insurance can be tricky for first-timers. There are tonnes of terms and conditions to navigate through, and then there are riders, top-ups and add-ons as well to be considered. How do you ascertain that your interests are best met while buying an insurance product?
Look beyond premium
It is essential not to think of health insurance as an optional expenditure but as an absolute necessity. When you want to buy health insurance, don’t let the premium costs deter you. Instead, look at the various ways an insurance plan can cover you financially in case you require hospitalisation.
Get a family floater
You can save money by having a family floater health cover where the benefits are shared by all family members.
Check which hospitals have networked with the insurer. Seeking treatment at a local hospital which has tie-ups with your insurer will help you get cashless treatment.
Any hospitalisation is likely to be preceded and succeeded by medical tests, treatment and consultation which entail a significant cost. You can determine the extent to which various expenses would be covered under your health plan. Most health plans will cover at least 30 days of pre-hospitalisation expenses and 30 days after.
Exclusions & waiting period
Every health insurance plan has exclusions and waiting periods associated with it. This means that some treatments or illnesses will not be covered under the plan, or be covered after the expiry of the waiting period. Waiting periods also expire in a layered manner. Waiting periods also apply to any pre-existing diseases which may not be covered for a specified number of years. Also, a health plan may not offer coverage in the first 30 days, subject to terms and conditions.
Co-pay is the percentage of your medical expenses, incurred on hospitalisation, that you agree to pay from your own pocket. Co-paying is one way of lowering premium costs. Any health plan with no co-pay will charge a higher premium than one offering the same benefits but with a higher co-pay.
Some insurance plans provide you the option of having your coverage amount restored in any year you exhaust it. For example, you may have spent the whole sum assured for the treatment of one disease. In the same coverage period, you may suffer from an illness unrelated to the previous illness and require hospitalisation again. Under a restoration plan, your entire coverage is available to you again.
Check for no claim bonus
Some insurance products offer incentives for every year where insurance claims are not made. This is offered in the way of an increased sum assured.
The writer is CEO, BankBazaar.com