A millennial’s guide to buying health cover

Take a policy as early as possible, when you are healthy

Indian millennials, who typically fall in the age bracket of 18-35 years, are much like the American Baby Boomers of the yesteryears. They are competitive, self-assured and endowed with more resources than their parents. Unfortunately, this pace of life is leading to an increase in the risk of lifestyle diseases.

As per a recent report by (fitness technology firm) GOQii India, there has been a steady rise in lifestyle and stress-related diseases among people below the age of 45. Coupled with that, medical care costs have been bounding northwards year-on-year in double-digits, thereby impacting an individual’s personal finances.

It thus becomes critical for everyone to understand the importance of health insurance.

A health insurance policy provides cover against many common diseases and ailments besides critical illnesses. In addition, it covers communicable diseases such as malaria, dengue, typhoid, tuberculosis and hepatitis.

When to buy

Ideally, one should buy a health insurance policy as early as possible to avail oneself of its various benefits.

While an individual may be confident about his/her current health, it is also important to take cognizance of the rising trend in lifestyle diseases such as acidity, obesity and fatigue.

Each of these could lead to critical disorders like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or organ failures, thus putting a financial burden on an individual early in life. For those in the age bracket of 18-35 years, a health cover would cost about ₹5,000 annually for a sum insured of ₹5 lakh

Individuals who are healthy will not be financially burdened by the premium of health insurance policies as he/she could gain in the form of no-claim bonus.

What it covers

Health insurance has evolved over the years and now covers pre-hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation expenses, day-care procedures, domiciliary treatments (home-based treatment for an illness or injury covered by the policy on the advice of a the medical practitioner or in cases where hospital rooms are unavailable), organ donor expenses, emergency ambulance and many related expenses that one may incur during treatment. For instance, the cost of medical tests, prescribed medicine costs and consultation charges incurred before hospitalisation are covered under the health policies.

Interestingly, alternative treatments such as Ayush (Ayurveda, Homeopathic, Unani and Siddha) are also covered by some insurance companies today, provided the treatment is taken in government/accredited hospitals.

Checklist

A few policies may appear to be more appealing due to the low premium charged by the insurance companies. However, one should not limit the parameters of buying a policy to low premiums.

An individual should purchase a policy that provides comprehensive coverage that will secure him/her financially, notwithstanding the nature of the illness. Some health insurance providers cover limited daycare procedures, while others cover almost all of them. Daycare procedures include radiotherapy, dialysis, angiography and cataract surgery done as an inpatient for less than a day in a hospital. One must also read through the policy documents carefully for sub-limits. These are individual caps on claims that are set on various hospital expenses such as ICU charges and room rentals. It goes without saying that one who buys a policy needs to do proper due diligence to avoid unpleasant surprises at the time of a claim.

In a nutshell, it is imperative for millennials to secure themselves with adequate health cover.

If you have dependents, it is advisable to buy a family floater plan which will be economical as it covers the health risk of your spouse and kids. Note that there is tax exemption to the tune of ₹25,000 under Section 80 D for health insurance.

The writer is Executive Vice-President, Personal Accident and Health, HDFC ERGO General Insurance

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