The ratio of men and women covered by health insurance in India indicates a wide gender gap. Although women these days take up as much financial responsibilities as men do for their families, they lag behind when it comes to seeking insurance. A study some years back by a well-known insurance company revealed that only 10% of employed women have a health insurance plan covering them.
There are various reasons for women not buying as much health insurance as men do. Let’s take a look at them, and what can be done to fix it.
Lack of awareness
Not enough women know of their options when it comes to buying financial products. In many households, women are the sole breadwinners or co-breadwinners. Women must take cognisance of their health condition and locate the appropriate health cover which will protect their family from the financial damages of health hazards.
Medical expenses grow higher every passing year, and even though you don’t want to think of yourself in a vulnerable state, a sudden illness could drain all your savings. Health insurance takes care of your hospitalisation expense for yourself and dependents during any illness.
Dependency on family
Even though women have become financially independent, they still let the men in their family take the lead in financial planning. They favour their father or husband’s family floater plan to protect themselves and the rest of the family. A family floater plan may not always be sufficient. Women must recognise their own individual needs before deciding if they need an additional individual policy. There are several insurance products tailored for the special needs of women. For example, certain products may cover breast cancer, which may be more useful to women than a one-size-fits-all cover.
Dependency on employer-sponsored health plan
The group plan provided by employers is often thought to be enough, without employees realising that there can be need for a higher sum assured, or that there won’t be any insurance protection on quitting the job. It is always recommended to have an independent plan, as the employer coverage may not be sufficient for the treatment of a chronic ailment or a critical illness.
Aversion to paying premiums
Women often prefer to save money through conventional instruments, as they rely upon the employer’s cover or the husband’s family floater when it comes to taking care of medical expenses. Moreover, health insurance premiums are often considered an avoidable expense. Some also buy health insurance purely for tax-saving purposes. This is folly. Buying health insurance should be of the same priority as paying house rent or utility bills. Health plans are not expensive and can be maintained without cutting down much on other investments and expenditures. A 30-year-old person may buy a cover of Rs 5 lakh with premiums starting in the range of Rs 4,600.
You may also like to watch this video
Not understanding risk
People often don’t think through health risks when they are at the peak of their health or when they are young. Statistically, they are not inclined towards having a critical illness or having to face a hospitalisation. This is true not just for women but for everyone in that age group. However, hospitalisation irrespective of your age or gender remains expensive. The only way you can get through it without depleting your savings and investments is through a health insurance.
The writer is CEO, BankBazaar.com