With the international crude oil prices falling around the $50 a barrel-level, general inflation in India has been observed to be softening. The retail inflation has fallen to around 5%-level, and wholesale inflation has fallen in the negative territory at the start of the year. While fall in inflation is great news, no respite is visible from the rising medical costs, which continue to remain high even after having risen in the double-digits annually during the last decade.
Health is a major concern for the most of us. From elderly parents to newborn children, medication and hospitalization play a substantial role while ensuring the health of a family. While age-related ailments are almost inevitable, even the young generation of today is also not immune from health issues, notably the lifestyle-related ailments. Estimates suggest that medical inflation has been in double digits since more than one decade.
\With changing lifestyles and rising incidences of accidents, Health Insurance is not more the exclusive requirement of elderly people. Today, a medical emergency can strike to anyone, anytime, irrespective of gender, place or age. From newborn children to youngsters to elderly parents, medication and hospitalization play important role while ensuring well-being of families.
Generally speaking, diseases like cancers, cardiovascular ailments, chronic respiratory ailments and diabetes are some of the major causes of deaths in India. And fighting these diseases is getting expensive. For instance, Herceptin, one of the most effective drug for breast cancer, costs around Rs 75,000- Rs 1 lakh for a 440-milligram vial¹. Cancer patients need around 6 to 17 vials for reasonable treatment. Alternatively, just one cycle of Avastin- used for treating lung and breast cancer – costs in excess of Rs 25,500², and each course requires between 5 and 10 cycles of injection. Glivec, used in the treatment of multiple cancers, costs Rs 1.25 lakh for a month’s dose². Treating diseases of the cardiovascular system typically costs in excess of Rs2-3 lakh in a city like Mumbai³. An angioplasty can costs around Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs2.5 lakh⁴,depending upon the type and number of stents being used, or where it is get done.
Meanwhile, the medical care is becoming less invasive and more costly due to new technology. With healthcare providers putting in crores of rupees in super-specialty equipment and robotics,the cost is obviously passed on to patients. Additionally, there are incidental costs such asthe Intensive Care Unit (ICU), treatment for new infections, which only add to the misery of the patients. Not everyone will be able to afford such facilities on their own resources. Even for those who are fortunate to afford the treatment, it would mean spending several years’ savings. Amid the changing economics of healthcare business, not having a Health Insurance could be risky to one’s physical as well as financial health.
A Health Insurance acts as a protection measure of saving your finances in the event you or your family members need to get hospitalized. All Health Insurance plans come in two basic variants – Individual Insurance and Family Floater. An Individual Health Insurance plan is a separate insurance for an individual with defined cover. A Family Floater, on the other hand, is a Health Insurance policy that covers an entire family and in which the limit (insurance amount or the sum assured) can be utilized by any of member of the family individually. It is a comprehensive health cover that helps individuals to tackle increasing medical costs.
Diagnosis of a disease at any point of time can lead to sudden panic. The major reason behind this panic is generally the high cost involved for medical and treatment for certain ailments or even injuries. However, if you have a comprehensive health plan, it will cover majority of those costs, thus relieving you off major financial pressure.
Health Insurance plans are available in two main types – Individual plans and Family Floaters. An individual Health Insurance policy means a separate insurance for an individual with defined cover. A Family Floater, on the other hand, is a Health Insurance policy that covers an entire family and in which the limit (insurance amount or the sum assured) can be utilized by any of member of the family individually.
Most health insurers offer option to purchase Health Insurance policy online, whereby an individual can choose the type of policy (Individual or Family Floater), sum assured and calculate premium online by providing some basic details. After providing other general details such as family members (in case of Family Floater) and contact details, one can proceed to online payments. Once the payment is made, the hard copy of the policy is delivered to the customer’s address within a stipulated period of time. A customer also has a choice of getting assistance from the provider’s customer care department to choose the right insurance and proceed without any hiccups.
By Mukesh Kumar, Executive Director, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company