Senior citizens should most definitely invest in a senior citizen's health insurance plan - a step many balk at taking because the investment sum is rather hefty. However, it is important to remember that while a senior citizen's health insurance plan is expensive, they are also effective in protecting one's finances in the long run. These plans are a good way to ensure that even if you have to spend on medical issues, you are reimbursed.
Let's look at some of the key features of senior citizen health plans, which differ significantly from those policies aimed at younger people:
These specific senior citizen health policies enable a senior citizen to seek health coverage for the first time, even at 70 or 80 years of age. General health policies do not allow this.
A medical test is compulsory before the insurance company approves of a senior citizen's application. These medical tests will involve eye related tests, blood pressure, lipid profile, blood sugar levels, haemoglobin and ECG related ailments etc. and the costs will have to be borne by the applicant.
The sum assured for specific senior citizen plans can go up to as high as 5 lakhs, though usually, it ranges in between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, which is quite a competent amount. Private insurers are now offering even higher coverage which can go up to significant amounts.
The premiums are higher for senior citizens, and it goes up further if there is any pre existing ailment such as diabetes, hypertension, etc, there is a significant rise in the percentage of the premium per disease.
The more one delays in taking a policy, the more expensive it is - for example, the premium increases by 20 per cent every five years from the age of 60, so an elderly person would be paying more premium for lesser cover. Remember that private sector insurers charge less premiums initially, which are enhanced if ailments surface.
Be aware that every time a substantial claim is made, which amounts to more than 25 per cent of the sum assured by your policy, the insurer could raise premium rates or implement loading charges. So read the fine print carefully and be aware when buying a policy.
There are waiting periods that are levied in the case of pre existing ailments, which depend on your insurance company - the standard waiting period being 1-4 years and medical bills for common age related ailments such as hernia, cataract, gall bladder etc. are generally not covered for the first 2 years.
There are various sub limits levied as well - in the event of hospitalization. There are limits for claims with regard to ambulance, room, ICU costs, doctor fees and other peripherals and a fixed sum is allotted for surgeries and other medical treatments. Be aware of these limits, as you will need extra money to pay for any extra costs incurred.
Health insurance policies for seniors also include what is known as a co-payment clause - which means that the insured has to be a portion of costs incurred in certain cases. Certain insurance companies might ask the insured to pay half the costs, in the case of treatment of pre-existing ailments while other insist on co payment for all illnesses, if the insured is a senior citizen.
If you are a senior citizen and you have not invested in health insurance yet, it is important you do so because such a policy will help you recover a major portion of the costs incurred for medical treatment. Many might cite their good health and say they do not need health insurance, and would rather use that money in other endeavors. However, one can never predict ill health and medical treatment without insurance will wipe out all savings in one fell swoop.
Investing in more than one policy is an effective trick to get a cover that is substantial. If you are a senior citizen and still working, it is a good idea to invest in a health cover at least 4 years prior to retirement, which will ensure that all pre existing ailment waiting periods are done with before you retire from service.
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