Health insurance: Should you buy Covid–19 specific health plan?

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Published: June 29, 2020 6:45 AM

While the insurance regulator has allowed insurers to sell short-term Covid–19 specific health insurance policies, ideally people should buy a comprehensive health insurance policy and renew it every year

With medical costs rising, a policyholder should opt for a top-up plan, which gives additional cover over and above the normal coverage. With medical costs rising, a policyholder should opt for a top-up plan, which gives additional cover over and above the normal coverage.

The insurance regulator has allowed all insurers—life, non-life and standalone health—to offer Covid–19 specific short term health insurance policies. These policies will be for a minimum term of three months to a maximum of 11 months and can be offered both as individual or group products. While optional covers that enhance the health insurance coverage are permitted to be offered for the same policy duration, no separate add-ons are permitted.

While life insurers will offer only benefit-based short-term health insurance policies, general and standalone health insurers can offer both indemnity-based and benefit-based short term health insurance policies. The waiting period for the short-term health insurance policies will not be more than 15 days against 30 days in regular health insurance plans. However, lifelong renewability, migration and portability will not be applicable to the short-term health insurance policies.

Amit Chhabra, head, health insurance business, Policybazaar.com, says due to its short duration, the affordability of the product is high. “The plan is a perfect solution for people who cannot afford a comprehensive health cover but are still looking for adequate financial protection against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” he says. The minimum sum insured will be Rs 50,000 and the maximum will be Rs 5 lakh. The plan will be available on a family floater basis for individuals with a minimum entry age of 18 years and maximum of 65 years.

Comprehensive health insurance
While the regulator is devising many options so that more people buy health insurance, it is always better to buy a comprehensive health insurance policy. One must look at a basic product that covers all the members of the family and the sum insured under the policy is the total amount of liability that the insurer will bear annually. One can buy a health insurance policy till the age of 65 years and renew it lifelong.

For all health covers, insurers allow access for treatment in network providers, or in any hospital that is not part of the network provider across the country, except hospitals excluded from providing health care services for such covers. While buying a health insurance policy, ensure that the cumulative bonus is stated explicitly in the prospectus and even in the policy document. Also, look at the product information on the company’s website, which will include a description of the product, clauses and premium rates inclusive and exclusive of the service tax payable.

A policy can be either individual or floater, and sum insured can be increased at the time of its renewal. While premium for health insurance increases with age, there is a steep rise in premium after the age of 45 years and, in some cases, it can increase by as much as 50%.

Top-up cover
With medical costs rising, a policyholder should opt for a top-up plan, which gives additional cover over and above the normal coverage. A regular health insurance policy reimburses hospital bills up to the sum insured while a top-up plan covers costs after a certain threshold is reached. While one can buy a top-up cover from any insurer, it is advisable to take it from the same insurer from which one has taken the base plan. This will save the hassles of documentation and make the coordination process smoother in case of any claim.

A top-up cover is beneficial for salaried people who have a group cover from the employer. There are super top-ups, which do not have the limit of single claim and can be claimed for any illness over the deductible amount for the entire year.

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