Dos & Don’ts of Buying Healthcare Plans in the Post-pandemic World

For peace of mind, choose one giving extensive coverage with access to quality facilities across the world

Dos & Don’ts of Buying Healthcare Plans in the Post-pandemic World
Dos & Don’ts of Buying Healthcare Plans in the Post-pandemic World
Shashank Chaphekar - 25 May 2021

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we can’t take anything for granted. The impact of Covid is making people realise that health insurance is no more a priority but a necessity, because emergency medical care needs can impact anybody, even those who believed they don’t need any health insurance as they won’t fall ill. Instead, scarred customers are today saying they want to buy health insurance, but and are looking for advice on how to best engage with the healthcare ecosystem, and identify the best cover for themselves.

Here’s a list of some dos and don’ts when planning to buy a health insurance plan to ensure all-round protection in a post-pandemic world, that will keep you and your family a step ahead.

  1. A medical emergency can be a traumatic event. What can compound the trauma is the lack of funds. It’s therefore said that while earning members need life insurance, every member of the family needs health insurance. So, when you buy health insurance, ensure that you have your entire family covered. How much cover you should buy depends on many factors. These could be where you live, your preferred healthcare network and the size of your family.
  2. One should choose a health plan that not only covers hospitalisation but also most related medical costs together with outpatient consultations and check-ups. The sum insured should be inflation-adjusted in tune with present and future medical needs.
  3. With international travel a necessity for many, those who need to travel should plan for access to quality healthcare across the globe, ie., a global cover, which takes into account hospitalisation, pre- and post- hospitalisation check-ups, covers all major illnesses, emergency services, OPD, global second opinions, travel expense benefit and other benefits worldwide.
  4. Remember to upgrade your health cover from time to time. There are many ways you can do so, from increasing sum insured in existing policy to adding a second policy to your portfolio. However, the best option is to buy a super top-up plan. While increasing the insurance cover or going for a new plan can cost you heavily, a super top-up plan offers an extra security blanket over your existing needs, which comes in handy in case of emergencies, but at a comparatively lower cost.
  5. With non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and diabetes on the rise, it is always prudent to consider a comprehensive critical illness cover that pays a pre-defined sum for critical illnesses and can act as an income supplement to support loss of income. As a thumb rule, ensure that you take protection of around 10 times your annual income as your sum insured, for critical illnesses. Also check various claim payout options such as lumpsum payout upon diagnosis, or a staggered payout in monthly instalments, helping you cover expenses while you fight the disease.
  6. Look for merits and coverage benefits of the products, rather than choosing a plan based on the premium. Remember, co-pay, room rate caps, ICU sub-limits and other such jargons exist to mitigate risk for the insurer.
  7. It is also important to look for additional benefits such as loyalty bonus, premium waiver, restoration benefits, cumulative bonus booster, ease of claim process (cashless or reimbursement) and rewards for healthy lifestyle, among others.
  8. It is critical to know what is included and what is excluded by the policy, to avoid disappointment later. Also, know the waiting period, i.e. the time a policyholder needs to wait before they can make a claim. This can be for some or all benefits, depending on terms and conditions of the policy. The wait period can be for a pre-existing condition, initial waiting period, or coverage of any particular condition after a specified period.
  9. Honesty is the best policy. When it comes to health insurance, you need to be truthful about the information you provide to the insurance company. That would allow insurers to keep you and your family safe and claims to be accepted smoothly. Customers should be aware of what they have bought and always make an honest declaration of their health status so that there are no challenges during the claims process.

A comprehensive health plan can go to great lengths to safeguard your finances while protecting your health and well-being. So, to enjoy life with complete peace of mind, choose a health plan that provides extensive coverage with access to quality healthcare with no geographical boundaries or financial stress.

The writer is chief distribution officer, Manipal Cigna Health Insurance Company Limited

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author's own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.