How COVID-19 brought the importance of quality healthcare to our attention

Updated: Jun 24, 2020 9:03 PM

The importance of quality healthcare has risen multi-fold after the Coronavirus outbreak. So, how well prepared are you as an individual to handle healthcare issues arising due to COVID-19 or from any other medical issue?

How COVID-19 brought the importance of quality healthcare to our attentionThe best defense against any such pandemic outbreak is to have a robust healthcare system in place (Image source: Bajaj Allianz General Insurance)

Lockdown, Quarantine, Isolation – At the start of 2020, who would have thought that these three words will have such a big impact on our daily lives and not just health? However, all those who have seen Steven Soderbergh’s medical thriller Contagion (released in 2011) must have got a glimpse of the virus outbreak on human beings. Even back in 2015, during a TED Talk speech, Bill Gates had shared his apprehension that the risk of people dying from a virus was higher than a nuclear war.

Clear and present danger

The COVID-19, the infectious disease is still spreading and as per WHO figures as on June 3, nearly 62 lakh were already infected with the fatality of about 6 per cent as nearly 3.7 lakh people have lost their lives worldwide till now. The impact can be clearly seen not only on the lives of the people but even on the economic fabric of the nations. Both, the lives and livelihood are at stake as the authorities are in a fix whether to open up the economy or save lives.

What was lacking

In spite of early warning signs, almost all nations failed to act fast in taking adequate measures to control the spread of Coronavirus. Today, while some nations have managed to control its spread, others are still struggling with it. Taiwan is one of the few countries which has managed to control the spread of Covid-19 to a large extent because of its early preparedness.

That is, however, not the case with many others. Now as lack of adequate PPE kits, masks, beds, ventilators, isolation centers etc has become a major concern, governments at last have been forced to realize the state of their preparedness. In order to boost their capabilities, many nations have begun to work in this direction, but only after this deadly virus has already entered their borders and mingled with the population at large.

Are we prepared

The best defense against any such pandemic outbreak is to have a robust healthcare system in place. This is true both for nations and also for individuals. The importance of quality healthcare has risen multi-fold after the Coronavirus outbreak. So, how well prepared are you as an individual to handle healthcare issues arising due to COVID-19 or from any other medical issue?

Cost of hospitalization

The cost of treatment due to COVID-19 in a hospital could vary a lot depending on the city one resides in, the kind of hospital one chooses, the number of days of stay, usage of ventilator and occupancy of ICU. Depending on the tests reports, completion of monitoring and isolation period, the stay can be as long as 14 days or even more and the hospital bill could go up to Rs 5 lakh or even more.

According to a recent report by Mercer Marsh Benefits, medical inflation is close to three times of general inflation and similar trend is prevalent in India too.

COVID-19 and jobs

Besides being a killer virus of the nature of human-to-human transmission, the COVID-19 has taken its toll on the economic front as economic activity came to almost standstill following the lock down orders by the authorities. Shops, establishments, organization, companies were all shut down and several employees faced lay-offs from the payrolls.

In addition to loss of income, the employees who lose their jobs faces another quandary situation. Along with the job-loss, goes the benefit of Group Health Insurance provided by the employer. Many employees who banked solely on the employer- provided group insurance are most affected in these times.

Importance of Health insurance

No matter, if you have a group cover, most financial planners advise to buy a health insurance policy even before starting to save single penny for financial goals. The role of health insurance is twin fold – It helps you meet cost of medical bills during hospitalization and thereby protects your savings.

In the absence of a health insurance policy, your financial savings could be wiped out in a jiffy. You may have to dip into your long-term savings earmarked for, say, children’s education or even your own retirement.

Which cover to buy

If you have a small family, buying a Family Floater health insurance plan will suit as the coverage gets available to all members by paying a single premium only. The basic premise is that not all members of same family fall ill at the same time, hence a Family Floater health insurance plan will be suitable. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance’s Health Guard Family Floater Option is a plan that suits a small-family’s medical insurance needs.

However, as one age, the need for a higher coverage also rises and at times Family Floater polices may not help. Further, in a Family Floater health insurance plan, generally dependent children up to age 30 are allowed to be covered. Therefore, its essential to buy an individual health cover for adequate sum insured based on the city of residence and keeping the rising medical inflation in mind. Health Guard Individual Policy, a health insurance policy of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance is one such plan to help you meed medical exigencies.

Both, Family health insurance plans and Individual health insurance plans works on the re-imbursement basis, i.e. insurer pays the hospital bill during every hospitalization (on annual basis) up to the remaining amount of sum insured.

In addition, there are Defined-Benefit plans in which the entire sum insured is paid during hospitalization on the occurrence of the specified ailment. Such plans help in meeting cost of long-term care due to critical diseases such as heart attack, paralysis, lung ailments etc. Further, there are Daily Hospitalization Plans to help one meet out-of-pocket medical costs during the hospital stay.

Health Guard

Therefore, to guard against unforeseen medical costs, it’s essential to have a health portfolio with Family Floater health insurance plans, Individual health insurance plans, Critical Illness Insurance plans and Daily Hospitalization Plans with adequate coverage. Unless you have such guards of defense with comprehensive health care protection, your savings will be at big risk of getting depleted in quick time.

Health care

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, India’s leading private general insurance company for FY18-19 had a solvency ratio of 255 per cent as against the mandatory requirement of 150 per cent, signifying its sound claims paying ability. Solvency ratio compares the cash flow of an insurance company to the liabilities and determines its claim paying ability. Companies with a higher solvency ratio are considered more financially sound. [1]

Also, according to the IRDAI Handbook 2018-19, the Claim Ratio for the Health Insurance segment of the insurer was at 85.29 for FY 18-19. The claim ratio or the incurred claim ratio is a measure of the net claims settled by the insurer to the net premium collected by the insurer. [2]

Protect your family

Even after you have a health insurance plan with adequate coverage for self and family members, you need to be taking proper care in your daily life. Even when the lockdown ends and the life moves on, one needs to get accustomed to the new way of life when living in the open world.

From washing hands to maintaining a reasonable distance with people outside, to taking steps to increase immunity especially of children and old-aged, the role of right kind of healthcare is here to stay. Do not procrastinate, sense the danger ahead that the virus can have on your savings and act fast and right now!

Source:

[1] https://www.bajajallianz.com/download-documents/press-release/Press-Release-Bajaj-Allianz-General-Insurance-reports-strong-results-with-revenue-of-Rs-11097-crore-FY-18-19.pdf

[2] Handbook on Indian Insurance Statistics F.Y. 2018-19

(This article is sponsored by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company)

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