3 healthy covers for the elderly

There are alternatives you can bank on if you haven’t yet bought a medical policy

Those of you in your silver years would have spent the best part of your youth slogging it out to enjoy a ‘peaceful’ retired life. To savor your hard-earned money, you must avoid dipping into your corpus for your ailments and take medical insurance.

Dedicated senior citizen covers sold by private companies, policies offered by public sector banks in association with insurance players and the option to be added as a beneficiary in your working children’s existing group scheme, can be considered.

Bank insurance

Andhra Bank, Bank of Baroda, Indian Bank, Syndicate Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce, among others, offer health insurance policies for their account holders.

These banks have tie-ups mostly with United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and New India Assurance for providing cover. A few have partnered with private insurers.

The policies work mostly like any group medical cover. Low premiums and high entry age are the key features.

While Andhra Bank, OBC and Indian Bank offer coverage of up to ₹10 lakh, the sum insured generally ranges from ₹1-5 lakh in the case of most other banks.

There are several advantages of bank-driven medical insurance policies.

For one, they have a very high entry age. The policies from Indian Bank and OBC, for example, can be taken by those up to the age of 79 or 80.

But the general entry age is restricted to around 65 years for most of the other banks and renewal is allowed till the insured turns 80 and, in some cases, for life.

For a sum assured of ₹5 lakh, the premium ranges from ₹10,000-20,000 per annum for those less than 65.

These insurance policies offer cashless treatment at network hospitals and coverage of pre-existing illnesses after a waiting period, usually of one to three years.

For certain ailments, there is a limit on claims, irrespective of the actual costs.

Next, premiums can rise, and the insurance company could also insist on co-payment at a later date.

If you haven’t taken any health insurance during your working life, post-retirement, you can opt for these policies.

Regular cover providers

When you take a health insurance policy after your retirement, you may have to pay higher premiums than a regular customer would in his (say) 40s. For example, a ₹5-lakh medical policy from private or government-owned insurers taken for a senior citizen, would cost ₹18,000-38,000.

HDFC Ergo, Star Health, Apollo Munich, Religare and Oriental Insurance Company offer dedicated senior citizen policies. Star Health has the lowest waiting period for pre-existing illness of just one year. Others typically have a two to three-year waiting timeframe. Medical tests are insisted upon by almost all insurance firms before accepting senior citizens’ proposals. A major drawback in these policies is the upper/sub-limit or cap that is placed for various treatments. So room rents can be only up to 1 per cent of the sum assured. There is a limit on how much can be spent on ailments such as hernia and cataract.

Insurance firms may insist on anywhere between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of the treatment cost as co-payment from your side. Only the balance would be settled.

Add-on to working children

If your daughter or son has a group cover in her/his office, you can ask her/him to add you in the policy, as many corporates these days allow you to add parents/in-laws in their health policies.

All pre-existing diseases are covered and there is no waiting period. So, coverage starts from the day premiums are paid. Costs are pretty reasonable.

Your children can take medical policies from insurance companies separately and use the office-given group cover for you.

But if your son or daughter quits his/her company, the medical cover would stop.

If you do not want to be dependent on someone else for insurance cover, take one of the first two options.

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