Planning to take a global health insurance policy? Keep these things in mind

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Published: February 22, 2019 12:13:13 PM

While buying these policies, not only the cost of treatment, but expenses such as the dollar-rupee exchange rate, cost of travel, accommodation, and food also needs to be considered.

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Every year many Indians go abroad for medical treatment, especially to get superior treatment for life-threatening diseases such as cancer. The cost for these treatments is much higher than what is charged in India. Not only the cost of treatment, but other things and expenses such as the dollar-rupee exchange rate and the cost of travel, accommodation, and food also need to be considered. Normally, the general health insurance policies in India don’t provide cover for medical treatment abroad. Policyholders can only make claims for treatments availed in India. However, few insurers, such as Max Bupa, Royal Sundaram, Cigna TTK, and Religare HealthCare, offer policies that cover medical treatment abroad.

Last year state-owned general insurer, New India Assurance, launched a global mediclaim policy, New India Global Mediclaim Policy, that provides cover for treatments abroad — treatments such as neurosurgery, heart surgery, organ transplant, bone marrow transplant, and cancer. Policyholders aged between 18 and 65 years can opt for this policy and the policy covers hospitalization expenses incurred by the policyholder. The policy comes in two variants, one provides cover for hospitalization in Asian countries while the other provides cover for treatment worldwide. Other insurance companies like Apollo Munich offer additional riders and add-on covers for treatment overseas.

However, these policies vary depending on the insurance provider. For instance, most of these policies do not pay for each and every treatment or treatment-related cost incurred on a treatment overseas. Broadly, there are three types of plans differentiated upon the coverage of the treatment they provide.

If you are also planning to opt for such a policy, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • For international coverage, most of these plans have specified sum insured and certain illness listed. The full benefits of these plans are typically available in higher sum assured values which also come with a higher premium.
  • Before opting for a policy, policyholders should also find out which countries are covered under that policy. Generally, treatment in Canada and the US are excluded from all health insurance plans. However, you can opt for them by paying a higher premium as compared to other countries.
  • Industry experts suggest policyholders must choose a coverage amount that is adequate, given the high cost of treatment abroad. Know that health insurance policies covering international treatments also include coverage in the home country.
  • Some insurance providers also offer critical illness plans extensively for international treatment. However, policyholders should be aware that these policies are limited to critical illnesses only. For instance, Lifeline Elite plan by Royal Sundaram offers international health policy covering 11 specified critical illnesses (excluding the US and Canada) with co-payment of 20 per cent on all claims.
  • Though cashless option is available in some plans, most of these insurance companies offer claim settlement by way of reimbursements only as it becomes difficult for a domestic insurance company to maintain such a global network of hospitals. Experts suggest unless there is an emergency, policyholders should also let the insurer know in advance and give proper notice before traveling abroad.
  • Policyholders should know that emergency medical treatment included in a travel insurance policy is absolutely different from international health insurance cover. For instance, the standard travel insurance will not cover you, if you are traveling abroad for the purpose of planned medical treatment. You will need a proper health insurance policy for such treatment.

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