Buying health insurance plans: How existing and new policyholders are impacted in times of COVID-19

Updated: May 25, 2020 3:53 PM

The average policy seeker in a post-COVID-19 world might be more mindful about health insurance as a concept as compared to the one in a pre-COVID-19 era.

 health insurance plans, family floater plan, critical illness plan, COVID-19, insurance policy, policy premiumUnplanned medical expenditure can put pressure on one’s savings leading to a financial crisis.

By Biresh Giri

COVID-19 is a global challenge. This is mainly because of the capacity of the virus to spread rapidly and the absence of a proven and affordable cure for it. People across the world are worried about the disease because of its far-reaching consequences. The disease not only causes a healthcare crisis but also leads to economic hurdles.

There are concerns about the physical implications of falling prey to the disease as well as the mental ramifications of the precautionary measures undertaken to avoid it. Another major cause for concern is the hospital bill associated with such a disease. Unplanned medical expenditure can puncture one’s savings leading to a financial crisis. This is where a health insurance policy can come in handy. Read on to know more about health insurance in the times of COVID-19.

New-age Health Insurance

The health insurance sector is undergoing a digital transformation. Traditional insurers are evolving digitally while new digital-first insurers are using technology to simplify products, increase penetration, and serve the policyholders. However, COVID-19 has raised novel questions for the insurers, regulators, and consumers. And again, the digital infrastructure can help with the answers in the form of creating awareness, offering better policies, and settling claims efficiently.

For Existing Policyholders

The immediate concern of policyholders is finding out whether their insurance policy covers COVID-19 or not. You can check if your insurance policy covers you against COVID-19 by directly asking your insurer about it. Many insurers have come forward and communicated the same to their policyholders.

The stated waiting period, hospitalization for less than 24 hours, and the pandemic status of the disease might come across as a barrier while raising a claim. However, if you meet the terms and conditions of the policy, your claim should be settled smoothly.

For New Policyholders

If you do not have an insurance policy and are looking for one, then you can check your preferred insurer’s website, go through the inclusions and exclusions, and purchase the plan. If you have any concerns, get them addressed by calling or emailing the insurer.

Some insurers have come up with COVID-19 specific health insurance policies. Make sure to check details related to the sum insured, waiting period, coverage, exclusions, and claim settlement before buying it. You also have the option to buy a comprehensive policy that not only covers viral diseases but also offers enhanced health insurance coverage.

Alternatively, you can opt for a new standard health plan – Aarogya Sanjeevani Policy. This entry-level health insurance policy can be purchased from any health insurance company and it comes with standard coverage and exclusions. However, if you are already affected by the coronavirus, then it might be difficult for you to buy a health insurance policy and raise a claim for it.

Long-term Impact

The long-term impact of COVID-19 on health insurance is tough to predict because of the mysteries associated with the virus. However, what can be predicted is that it has the potential to bring about fundamental changes in drafting policies, underwriting risks, and settling claims. For example, prolonged hospitalization of policyholders due to the disease might push the need for higher policy premium in the future.

The average policy seeker in a post-COVID-19 world might be more mindful about health insurance as a concept as compared to the one in a pre-COVID-19 era. Increased awareness and the desire to safeguard oneself financially against unknown health risks might prompt people to make health insurance a necessary lifestyle expense rather than a mere tax-saving instrument.

Health Cover Is a Must

Ideally, you should be covered under some type of health insurance policy, for example – an employer offered cover, family floater plan, or a critical illness plan. However, buying an individual health insurance plan with an appropriate sum insured and minimum exclusions will be beneficial holistically.

(The author is Appointed Actuary, Head of Product Development & CRO, at Acko General Insurance)

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