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What to keep in mind when buying a health insurance policy

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So you’ve decided to go ahead and buy a health insurance policy and then, suddenly, you hit a wall. You’re faced with some all-important questions: 

  • How much health insurance cover do I need? 
  • What should I even keep in mind when thinking about which policy to opt for? 🤔

With increasing life expectancy and sedentary lifestyles, the risks of succumbing to lifestyle diseases are higher than ever before. Moreover, advances in medical science also mean you are more likely to seek medical treatment. Having the right insurance cover at the right time can make all the difference in the world.

While there is no perfect formula, here are a few tips to help you make the best choice for you:

✔️ Start early ⏰  | First off, start early. The younger you start, the lower your premium and the better your chances of getting a discount on your premium. You’re also less likely to register a claim and derive the benefits of a no-claim bonus.

✔️ Buy for tomorrow, not today 🔮  | Medical costs have been steadily rising at a pace that is unprecedented since even before the pandemic. A surgery that costs INR 5,00,000 today could set you back by INR 75,00,000 in 20 years. As you age, a health insurance policy becomes more and more important and making sure your sum insured takes into account the long-term is essential.

✔️Consider YOU 👈 |  Think about your own family’s medical history – if you have a higher risk and can afford it, get a comprehensive policy. If you have a family, you could consider a family floater plan that covers your dependents. Having consolidated plans with your dependents makes claim management easier. 

✔️ Read between the lines 🔍  | Make sure you ensure the policy doesn’t have any hidden clauses that can come back to bite you:

  • The co-payment clause | For a sweet discount, an insurer may ask you to consider a policy with a 20% co-payment. This will look attractive today but every time you make a claim, you’ll be out of pocket.
  • Room restrictions | Some policies will have a room rent limit and if a room in this category isn’t available you’re suddenly left staring at a never-ending bill with extra services in addition to the rent. Try to find a policy that limits these restrictions. 
  • Low Waiting Period | If you have pre-existing diseases, insurers will ask you to wait for a few years before they cover claims arising from these conditions. If you can, find a policy that has a low waiting period.
  • Before AND After | If you’ve unfortunately fallen sick, there’s a lot of things that happen before you might have to get hospitalised. You’ll get tests, you’ll also need medication once you’re discharged. Get yourself a policy that covers you before and after hospitalisation.

Once you’ve considered all of the above and taken into account your own financial situation, pick a policy that gives you the best possible coverage. A few tips:

  • A good baseline is picking a percentage – say 3% or 5% – of your annual income when determining how much premium you’re willing to pay.
  • When thinking about your coverage or “sum insured” you should try and obtain cover that is between 50 to 100% of your annual income; 
  • Make sure you’re thinking about sudden contingencies and their financial impact with rising health care costs. 

Bottom line: Investing a little more today, can be vital tomorrow!

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