Health Insurance: A Basic Need For Every Woman

Health Insurance: A Basic Need For Every Woman
Health Insurance: A Basic Need For Every Woman
Amit Chhabra - 09 November 2019

Women, especially in India have come a long, long way! With equal access to quality education and employment, Indian women are studying, working and making the country proud in every sphere of life. Though this transformation of women's role in society is commendable, there is a flip side to the story.

Women in India put in significant efforts to strike a perfect balance between their focus on work-front and homely affairs. However, to make both ends meet they often fall prey to unsound lifestyle, which in turn takes a toll on their physical and mental health. A fact is, very few women focus on the importance of good health in their lives as a majority of them are always busy playing hide and seek between their professional and personal lives.

It is very important that women must stand up and take care of their lives first as they are the ones who drive the family and society to a great extent. It is often observed that due to lack of proper sleep and exercise coupled with unhealthy food habits often pave way to a host of ailments among young women. Most working women in India suffer from stress and anxiety that leads to mental illness such as depression. Diseases like diabetes, thyroid and infertility have increased in leaps and bounds over the last decade. The trend of life-threatening ailments such as cancer is also upsurge among young women in India.

According to a recent study by Saffolalife, India's largest study on risk factors causing heart disease - two in every five women is at a risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It is surprising to note that this high risk of heart disease sets in as early as at the age of 35. The risk of cardiovascular diseases is as high among housewives as it is among working professionals. As per the report, over 60 per cent of housewives and over 65 per cent of working professionals over the age of 35 in India are at the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The number of cancer cases in India is increasing every year. According to WHO, lung, oral, lip, throat and neck cancers are the most common among men while women suffer more from cervix, breast and ovarian cancers. India will need at least 600 additional cancer care centres by 2020 to meet the requirements. As per a recent media report, 48 per cent women being diagnosed with breast cancer are in their pre-menopausal age. Also, there are 1 lakh new cases of cervical cancer detected each year in India.

The average lifespan for women in India is 69 years, which clearly tells that they do need adequate savings to fund their medical expenses in their lives. Therefore, it’s crucial for them to be adequately covered by an apt health insurance plan early in their lives. The data mentioned above is indicative of the fact that the trend of more women buying insurance in the society is on the rise now. At the same time, lack of nutrition, dilapidated rural health care infrastructure, sanitation and transport facility has badly affected the reproductive health of the Indian women. India's maternal mortality ratio is highest in South Asia: 540 deaths per 100,000 live births or one woman dying roughly every five minutes. An estimated 1, 36,000 women die in India every year due to pregnancy-related setbacks.

A health insurance is important to women all age groups as while young girls can opt for health insurance with their parents, married women must opt for individual policy. A major reason behind this is that women in India use more health care services in comparison to men. The life expectancy rate of women is India is a bit higher than men, but women are more prone to chronic illnesses and require extended healthcare services.

There are many types of specific plans that provide benefits during certain stages in a woman’s life such as pregnancy. Indian women now have more and better choices when it comes to buying maternity benefit plans as earlier they were only available through corporate plans. However, now there are companies that offer maternity cover as an add-on with the health insurance policy. Most maternity plans come with a two to four years of waiting period and it is always advised to purchase the policy early. However, there are some insurers that offer lower waiting period but in return charge additional premium.

The women-specific products in the market cater to their specific needs and critical illnesses, moreover there is no special premium pricing for any such product. But as a woman it is important for you to stay informed, and invest in a plan that is benefitting you in more ways than one. For instance, you must check if the plan you wish to buy offers you various options like choice of a yearly or monthly premium, what are the deductibles, are there any waiver benefits, can you avail of cashless hospitalisation and others.

The author is the Head, Health Insurance at Policybazaar