A sudden illness or an emergency hospitalisation can throw one's well thought-out budget right out of the window. Meeting these expenses if you don't have adequate funds lined-up can be quite challenging for most people. And that's exactly why purchasing a health insurance policy is important, regardless of whether or not you already have a group health insurance cover.
Most people purchase health and life insurance policies solely for tax-saving purposes. However, the benefits of an insurance plan can go far beyond this. A medical insurance policy can provide a much-needed risk cover against expenses that one might have to incur in case of a medical emergency. But given that choosing the right health insurance policy is no easy matter, here are a few things you should keep in mind before purchasing your health insurance cover.
1. Individual Cover vs. Family Floater Cover
An individual health policy provides a risk cover with a dedicated sum insured to one person, i.e., the policyholder. Thus, if you require health insurance for multiple family members, you will have to purchase separate insurance policies for each member of your family. In comparison, a family floater policy provides a joint risk cover for all members of the family. Under a family floater cover, the sum insured can be utilised by the entire family, in varying amounts.
Health insurance providers offer customers both kinds of policies. Before you choose any one type of policy, you will need to consider your needs and your family's needs. If you are have a large family, it is smarter to opt for a family floater cover, since the sum insured can be shared by different members of your family, as and when the need arises. However, if one is very prone to illnesses, it is wiser to opt for an individual plan with a dedicated sum insured.
2. Sum Insured
When opting for the sum insured, it is vital that you consider the healthcare costs in your city of residence. If you live in a metro city, you will require a higher cover when compared to an individual who resides in a tier-2 city. Opting for a sum insured that's too low will be of hardly any benefit to you in case of a hospitalisation. And opting for a high sum insured will lead to high premium payments. Thus, it is essential that you choose an optimum sum insured amount, when purchasing a policy.
3. Co-Pay and Waiting Period
The co-pay is a certain sum of money that the policyholder has to pay out of his/her pocket in case of a hospitalisation. The co-pay could be a compulsory component of your policy or a voluntary aspect. In some cases, especially for elderly policyholders, insurers will fix a compulsory co-pay percentage. However, some insurers will also give you the option to opt for a co-pay. While opting for a co-pay is a great way to reduce your payable premium, you should only opt for it if you have the means to pay for your share of the medical bills.
Health insurance policies also come with waiting periods. Specific diseases/ailments and pre-existing diseases usually come with a waiting period that's anywhere between 1 and 6 years. It is always advisable to purchase a policy with a minimum waiting period.
4. Inclusions and Exclusions
A good rule that's applicable to any insurance cover that you purchase, be it life, health, or car insurance, is to carefully consider the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the insurer. You will find that different insurers have a slightly different inclusion and exclusion criteria. In case of health insurance, if you require coverage for certain specific ailments that are not covered by your policy, you could end up spending a great deal of money on your treatment despite having insurance.
5. Network Hospitals
Insurance firms usually partner with certain hospitals called network hospitals, which provide policyholders additional benefits like cashless hospitalisation facility. It is vital that you check just how large an insurer's network is before purchasing a policy from them. If a number of hospitals fall under an insurer's network, you are sure to find it easy to locate and seek admission into a network hospital, even in case of emergencies.
The benefits of purchasing a health insurance policy are numerous. By taking care of your expenses during medical emergencies, a health insurance cover can help you focus on the one that you should - your recovery. Ensure that you look around and compare health insurance policies to find one that offers you a cover as per your requirements, at an affordable rate.