55 million Indians are pushed into poverty because they have to pay for their own healthcareI am not an ‘agent’. So I am not going to try and sell you a policy but today by the end of this article, you will know exactly what you need to do to buy the best health insurance policy for yourself or your spouse, your children or your parents because in today’s article we are going to see.. What is health insurance and what are the parameters you need to check before you buy one?
A step-by-step procedure to pick the best health insurance policy. And towards the end, I’ll give you a Bonus Tip to ensure that you ‘touch-wood’ never have to claim a health insurance.
Suppose you get hospitalised because of some illness or accident, then the expenditure is going to be in lakhs for the surgery, hospital room, medicines, tests etc.. But if you have a health insurance policy then they will take care of all of these expenses for you and in return, they’ll charge you a small premium every year. So obviously, health insurance is a smart thing to have because it saves your health and it saves your bank balance. But not every health insurance provider is good. So, let’s quickly see what are the 6 parameters that you need to check before you buy a health insurance. Don’t worry, I’ll also tell you where you need to check these parameters.
- Claim Settlement Ratio. It is the ratio of the number of claims settled by the insurance company divided by the number of claims it has received. So obviously, higher this ratio, more are the chances that your claim will also be settled by this company without any issues. Above 90% is a good number.
- Network Hospital Covered Now, there is something called as a ‘cashless facility’ wherein, if that insurance provider has a tie-up with the hospital that you are admitted in then the hospital will directly send the bills to the insurance provider and you don’t have to pay anything. But if there is no tie-up, then you have to pay the hospital bills first and then get it reimbursed from the insurance company. It is too much of a hassle if you are recovering or have a patient to take care of. So make sure that your insurance provider has a tie-up with a large network of hospitals and that your favourite hospitals are covered in that network, especially the one’s that are closer to your home.
- Hospital room eligibility. Before I arrived, my family admitted my mom in some hospital in a shared room and that other family was turning on the TV at high volume, had too many guests walking in. It makes the patient uncomfortable, who is already in distress. So make sure that your insurance covers atleast the cheapest private room available.
- Waiting period. Health insurance policies cover pre-existing illnesses after a certain wait period. For example: Suppose you have diabetes, then after 2-4 years of wait-period can you claim any hospitalisation due to diabetes. So if you have any pre-existing illness, check that the waiting period of that insurance is as less as possible.
- Family Floater Health Insurance Policy Now, instead of buying separate policies, parents along with 2 minor children can be combined in one plan. In that plan, depending on the insurance provider each insured member will be given a separate coverage amount or all the members will share a combined sum. For example, suppose its a policy of 10 lakhs for 5 members, so each of these 5 members can either have 2, 2 lakhs coverage each OR they can share 10 lakhs together no matter who claims. In my case, my mom’s bill was around 3.5 lakhs and because we shared the combined sum, the insurance provider had to pay the entire amount instead of just 2 lakhs. The premium of such insurances is slightly higher but they are a money saver because you don’t have to spend on multiple policies. On a side note, if your employer is giving you a health insurance policy then check if you can also include your parents in the same because in my opinion, your company will be able to negotiate with the insurance provider better than you more so, if you do it as a group.
- Miscellaneous charges Along with the major surgical expenses a good policy also covers ambulance charges, pre and post-hospitalisation charges and some even throw-in a few health-checkups here and there. Apart from these 6 generic parameters, the other parameters that very from person to person that you need to check are these.. If you are planning a baby and want maternity expenses covered. If your family has a history of cancer and you want to be covered for chemotherapy, radiation or any other specific critical illnesses. If you want day-care procedures like cataract surgery or even dental included. Our requirements are different. So, the best health insurance policy for me will be different than the best health insurance policy for you. But don’t worry, I’ll give you a step-by-step procedure of how to find the best health insurance policy for you in the next segment. This was about health insurance. Now, there is something called as a ‘Life Insurance’ wherein the company pays a lump-sum to the beneficiaries incase of the insured person’s death. So if you want me to make a separate article about how to chose the best life insurance policy then comment below and let me know.
So here is a 4 step procedure to find your best health insurance policy.
Step 1: Write down what your requirements are.. what hospitals you’d like, whether you want your parents included in your policy, do you want maternity expenses covered, what illnesses you want covered etc..
Step 2: Now go to these health insurance comparison websites like PolicyBazaar, CoverFox etc.. They will show you the list of insurances that will be best for you, according to your age and other details. Here you will find policies as low as Rs. 9000/- per year which is less than Rs. 25/- per day. But more than premium, check their features and features not covered. While you are at it, also google, ‘5 Best Health Insurance Policies of India’ just to get an idea of what policies people are talking about and to read their reviews.
Step 3: Directly go the website of that insurance policy provider, call their executives and tell them what your requirements are. Talk to 3-4 executives (of different insurance providers) before you make a decision. They’ll only come to your office/home to give you the papers. Now, an important point. Sometimes these executives are in a hurry to just sell you the policy. So it’s your job to read it carefully and fill-in if you have any pre-existing illnesses because if you miss writing an illness and if because of this, your claim gets rejected tomorrow then these executives cannot be held accountable because their job was only to sell you that insurance. So don’t be in a hurry, read carefully and mention everything truthfully.
Step 4: Do not forget to reap the tax-benefits of paying your medical insurance premium under Section 80D. And that’s about it. Now where are you going to invest the money that you are saving from the taxes?
See, health insurance is an investment for life. But as I have mentioned in my previous articles, other long-term investments that you must consider investing in are Mutual Funds and Stock Market.
So today’s bonus tip is this.. Take care of your health because nobody else is going to do it for you.