Safeguarding your physical and financial well-being with COVID-19 health insurance - Hindustan Times
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Safeguarding your physical and financial well-being with COVID-19 health insurance

Updated on Jul 21, 2020 03:43 PM IST

The pandemic has fuelled awareness about health insurance policies with people sharing their nightmarish experiences of the difficulties in getting timely medical attention and skyrocketing medical bills. Sound policies can go a long way in ensuring accessibility of good medical care facilities and maintaining one’s financial health.

Policies can be life-savers for COVID-19 patients, especially those who do not have an existing health cover and are looking for the necessary protection.(iStock)
Policies can be life-savers for COVID-19 patients, especially those who do not have an existing health cover and are looking for the necessary protection.(iStock)
ByPromotional Feature, HT Brand Studio

Covid-19 is a reality that isn’t going away any time soon, and as all of us try and find a few certainties in an uncertain scenario, we can’t help but wonder what next. As of today, India is the third-worst affected country in terms of coronavirus infections, with over 8.7 lakh cases. To be sure, the Indian authorities are taking several steps to flatten the curve, may it be in the form of restrictions on movement, or providing easier health insurance options.

Pharmaceutical companies across the world are conducting research trials on a war-footing across the globe to develop vaccines and drugs that can cure coronavirus. In India, the manufacturing of Remdesivir and Favipiravir has commenced, both of which have shown positive results for alleviating the symptoms of COVID-19 patients.

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However, the potency of both the drugs for curing infections is still being debating and clinical trials are underway. Favipiravir is currently being tested in 18 clinical trials [1] for COVID-19 and results from only two studies have shown a positive outcome but only in COVID cases with mild to moderate symptoms. With respect to Remdesivir, The New England Journal of Medicine [2] said there is a need for more information from ongoing randomized trials to conclude whether the drug alone is sufficient for treatment.

Multiple vaccine candidates are in various stages of trial and given that the world’s fastest vaccine (for mumps) took five years to develop, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel may not become visible anytime soon. In the second-most populated country in the world, where existing spaces are confined making it difficult for suspected and positive COVID-19 patients to effectively follow quarantine norms, social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing masks remains our best bet. However, as India turns the economy ignition and citizens step out of their homes to resume their lives, the fear of community transmission looms large.

The rising burden of medical costs

The coronavirus pandemic has also dealt a severe blow to the economy. With trade, manufacturing, and all business activities coming to a standstill due to the lockdown restrictions, a large chunk of the population has been forced to dig into their savings to sustain themselves. The fear of contracting the infection and the thought of being burdened under a mountain of medical expenses reigns supreme in the minds of most people.

Hospitalization costs, for both COVID and non-COVID patients, has skyrocketed. The highly-contagious nature of the virus has necessitated the use of PPE kits, N-95 masks, face shields, and shoe covers by all doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. These medical consumables are translating into the inflation of hospital bills by several thousand.

For hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the paucity of quarantine spaces has also led to a ballooning of healthcare costs. Hospital wards have had to decrease the number of patients in adherence to social distancing protocols. Also, the emaciated condition of India’s health infrastructure and the burgeoning caseload in the country have turned medical care into an ugly demand and supply game with private hospitals charging in lakhs for the treatment of COVID patients.

Insurance policies to the rescue

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has fuelled awareness about health insurance policies with people sharing their nightmarish experiences of the difficulties in getting timely medical attention and skyrocketing medical bills. People are warming up to the idea that sound health policies can go a long way in ensuring accessibility of good medical care facilities and maintaining one’s financial health. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) had asked insurers to expeditiously attend to claims for treatment of Coronavirus. This was applicable to all types of existing health insurance plans for family, individuals or other policies that provided coverage for hospitalization expenses due to COVID-19.

In light of the current circumstances, the IRDAI has also made it compulsory for general, life, and health insurance companies to offer standard COVID-19 products. All insurers have been asked to launch short-term COVID-19 policies with the same names and uniform features.

IRDAI released guidelines for Corona Kavach’ and ‘Corona Rakshak’ with uniform features, terms, and conditions. General and health insurers mandatorily have to provide the reimbursement-based standard COVID-19 product, while benefit-based products are optional.

The minimum sum insured for the Corona Kavach Policy will be INR 50,000 and the maximum sum insured would be INR 5 lakh. For Corona Rakshak Policy, the minimum sum insured would be INR 50,000 and the maximum limit is capped at INR 2.5 lakh.

The policies can be life-savers for COVID-19 patients, especially those who do not have an existing health cover and are looking for the necessary protection. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance is among the insurers who have already floated comprehensive insurance policies. Moreover, you can evaluate your premium prices online with the health insurance premium calculator to opt for a plan that offers the required coverage within your specified budget.

Source:

[1] https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Favipiravir#section=ClinicalTrials-gov&fullscreen=true

[2] https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2007016

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