7 things to consider before buying health insurance for your parents
It is not always wise to opt for the cheapest policy, as it could have lesser coverage. Further, when selecting an insurance company, you should pick one that has a wide network of hospitals.Updated: Feb 14, 2018 17:14 IST
With the advance in medicine, the life expectancy of an average Indian has increased manifold. However, the rate of inflation is also constantly on the rise, rendering medical treatments extremely expensive in the country. This is where the significance of sufficient health insurance coverage comes into play.
The Indian insurance market has a wide range of health insurance offerings for the young professional. The industry also has products targeted at specific customer demographics, including senior citizens and those with life-threatening illnesses.
Types of health insurance for senior citizens
If you are looking to buy health insurance for your parents, a family floater healthcare plan would be a good option. These plans are designed specifically to offer insurance coverage to the entire family, including senior citizens. However, some plans impose a limit on the age of the parents, while others require the policyholder to pay a higher premium based on the age of the eldest parent.
Insurers impose these restrictions because of the age-versus-health risk metrics that they have to deal with. So, when a person ages, the risk he/she poses to a health insurance company also increases. In order to sustain a balance, the company inserts these built-in regulations that act as a buffer. Hence, it is advisable to buy an individual health insurance plan for your parent to avail maximum coverage at reasonable costs.
One can supplement the health insurance policy of his/her parent by opting for a personal accident cover at a minimal cost. This is a very useful cover that is also found to be a very popular rider in life insurance. In fact, general insurance companies have also started offering the personal accident cover as part of their car insurance policies. This indicates the merit of this rider in the personal insurance domain.
Why should you buy health insurance for parents?
It is necessary to protect your parents with health insurance for the following reasons:
●Senior citizens will not be active earning members in the family. This implies that they will have to foot a medical bill from their savings or pension. In dire situations, they may also depend on their children to offer monetary assistance.
●Medical inflation has made it very difficult for the common man to avail medical services at reasonable rates.
●Health insurance offers coverage for pre-existing diseases. This gives you complete peace of mind, particularly when you stay away from your parents.
●Increase in life expectancy makes it necessary to be equipped with adequate health insurance to tide you over difficult times.
●Even if your parent was benefiting from the health insurance provided by his/her employer, this facility ceases after retirement.
Points to note before purchase
Most leading health insurance providers today offer mediclaim policies that are specifically designed for senior citizens. When selecting a plan, it is important to bear these points in mind:
1.Entry age - All health insurance policies have entry age criteria that should be fulfilled by the individual to be eligible for coverage. However, the entry age guidelines will vary between insurers and plans; so, it is advisable to compare policies between providers. This exercise will help you in gauging the extent of coverage available under a plan and the corresponding premium. You will also get a clearer picture of the entry criteria.
2.Renewal age - Your parent’s health insurance plan will specify a maximum age until which you can renew the policy. This is referred to as the renewal age. Similar to the entry age, this factor also varies between plans and insurance companies. So, it is recommended to compare the offerings from various insurers in the market before making a decision.
3.Extent of coverage - When selecting a plan, you should ensure that you pick one that offers protection from a wide range of illnesses, particularly pre-existing ones. In health insurance parlance, pre-existing illnesses are referred to as diseases that the insured has suffered from in the past or is currently suffering from.
Such illnesses are usually covered after a specific duration, referred to as the waiting period. The waiting period for illnesses such as diabetes can go up to 2 years under some plans. If there is a common medical condition in the immediate family, you should look to cover your parents for the same.
4.Sum assured - The sum assured in health insurance is also referred to as the health cover. The policy will reimburse the expenses incurred for medical treatment up to the pre-defined sum assured under the plan. If you opt for a plan with a high sum assured, you will receive a larger amount for medical emergencies. So, it makes sense to opt for a large cover for your parents.
5.Cost of insurance - When compared to a health insurance plan for yourself, the insurance policy that you buy for your parents will always be costlier. As indicated above, this is primarily because of the risk that senior citizens pose to the insurer. It is not always wise to opt for the cheapest medical insurance policy, as it could have lesser coverage.
6.Network hospitals - When selecting an insurance company, you should pick one that has a wide network of hospitals. This helps you benefit from cashless claim settlement facility, which would be a boon in the event of an unprecedented hospitalisation.
7.Individual versus family floater - The coverage that your parents will receive under an individual health insurance policy will be higher than the coverage they receive from a family floater plan. Plus, an individual plan would also be more viable from a cost-versus-benefit perspective. So, pick an individual plan to provide maximum protection to your parents.
You can purchase health insurance for your parents through various channels, online and offline. However, it is advisable to buy insurance online, as it offers many benefits, some of which include highly secure transactions, premium rebates, and ease of purchase/renewal.