How to Buy Health Insurance

Posted By: Investment Yogi
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How to Buy Health Insurance
Health Insurance, or Mediclaim, as it is popularly known in India, protects you against unexpected medical costs, arising from disease or accidental injuries. This makes it an essential financial tool, as it ensures you receive medical care without being burdened with the costs associated with it.

Buying health insurance in India is not a very easy task. With the large number of products available, how do you ensure you get the right deal? The answer lies in understanding your need and choosing the product that suits you the most.

Available Options at a Glance

Healthcare costs have been on the rise and with the uncertainty of life, it is very important to have a health insurance cover not only for yourself but also for other members of your family. Here is a peek into the broad categories of health insurance options available.

Individual Health Plans

-Protection against hospital treatment expense, lasting for at least 24 hours.
-Cover against hospital room, surgeon cost, oxygen, nursing costs, and operation theatre costs.

Floater Health Plans
-Offers a cost effective single policy cover for entire family.
-Protection similar to individual health plan.

Note: Policy could be used by any family member any number of times during the policy term.

Critical Illness Plans
-Provides cover against certain diseases, termed as critical illness by the insurance company.
-List of critical illnesses covered could be cancer, heart attack, kidney failure, a major organ transplant, stroke and heart valve replace surgery.
-Policy pays the insured a lump sum on diagnosis of the specified illness.

Overseas Medical Policy
-Provides cover against medical expenses incurred while travelling abroad.
-Cover for treatment of disease or illness contracted or any injury sustained during the insured period abroad.
-Suitable for people travelling abroad on business, educational purpose or for pleasure.

Steps To Help You Buy Health Insurance

From the above mentioned categories, InvestmentYogi suggests following these simple steps in choosing the one that suits you best.

1. Decide between an individual or family policy.

Decide on the number of family members you wish to be included under the policy. If you are a young professional on your own, an individual plan may suit you. If you wish to take a policy that would cover your dependent parents, spouse and children, a family floater policy would be the ideal choice.

2. Decide on the cover amount required.

To arrive at the cover amount you require, make an estimate of the medical costs you may incur annually, with provisions for unexpected expenditures and your budget. You should also consider any health cover that may be offered by your employer.

3. Study the options available.

Once you decide on the type of plan, do a comparison with similar plans of other companies to see which plan offers you the most. Look out for riders such as accidental injuries, temporary disablement or a critical illness rider which are offered by companies. Ask yourself whether you need a critical illness plan or, a specific critical illness rider with an individual/floater plan would suffice.

4. Read the fine print of your document.

Before you sign your policy document, understand the fine print. Insurance companies may exclude certain conditions and ailments under the policy. Check for such exclusions to avoid any future hassles.

Checklist before your purchase

-Check if the insurer offers a cashless settlement, in which case, the company directly pays the costs to the hospital. Also check if the network of hospitals for cashless settlements is convenient for you in terms of treatment and location.
-Check the renewal age of policy, especially in case of dependent parents.
-Understand the process of making a claim. The fine print on the document on the procedures of making a claim must be understood by you and your family.
-Some companies offer pre-existing disease coverage after a certain number of years of the policy commencement. Check on the company"s terms and conditions for the same.

Procedural requirements

While buying a health insurance, the company may not ask you for any documents. A cheque or bank draft for the premium amount would be collected from you. Certain medical tests are needed for individuals above the age of 40 to 45, depending on the norms of the insurance company.

Costs You Would Incur

Health insurance costs, in the form of annual premiums, depend on the number of people and the amount of cover you seek. The cost also depends on the relative health condition of the oldest member seeking cover.

Limitations on Your Health Insurance

-No cover for routine medical expenses and medicines.
-A limited cover of up to only Rs 5, 00,000.
-No protection against loss of income in case of disablement or accident.

An After-word…

Health Insurance plans are valid only for a year and require a timely renewal. Hence it is very essential to budget for it on an annual basis and not as a onetime expenditure.

Insurance providers also offer benefits such as claim free year. It pays to take advantage of such features and bonuses.

With every stage in life, needs of individuals change, thus it is important to review your cover amount every year.

Courtesy: InvestmentYogi

Story first published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 18:30 [IST]
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