Updated: September 21, 2021 6:08:30 pm
Written by Amit Chhabra
The severity of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought death and tragedy to the doors of hundreds of thousands of grieving families across the country. In the last 18 months, we have all witnessed how the deadly virus has overwhelmed India’s public and private healthcare system with the shortage of ventilators, intensive care beds, and oxygen in almost every healthcare centre.
In fact, for people who tested positive for Covid-19 and were able to secure a bed in a hospital for treatment, the aftermath does not stop here. Medical bills and debt for the treatment of infection due to novel coronavirus are bankrupting those already ravaged by the pandemic. The ongoing crisis has taught us all how important it is to have a health insurance plan with the adequate sum insured to cater to all healthcare needs.
Jatin Mishra, a 40-year-old Mumbai resident was diagnosed with Covid-19 infection on June 22 and was in ICU since July 14. On discharge from the hospital in the last week of August, his hospital bill stood at Rs 95 lakh. The family had to sell their 3-bedroom house and move to a one-bedroom apartment. Another similar story is of Anuradha Mistry – a 36-year-old Ahmedabad resident. Anuradha was diagnosed with Covid-19 on June 26 and was shifted to ICU on July 17. She was discharged from the hospital on September 1 with an unpaid hospitalisation bill of Rs 88 lakh. Her husband had exhausted all his savings, including the sale of a property, and borrowed money from his family and friends. For both these families, the bills were way beyond their means. Especially for families like Anuradha Mistry with a sole breadwinner, the financial distress has been devastating.
Most of the families of those infected with Covid-19 can be seen going to extraordinary lengths to fund the treatment of their family members. In fact, in smaller cities and villages, people have been forced to sell their vehicles, gold, and even their farm animals to pay for life-saving treatment. However, the real question remains – will they ever be able to recover from such massive financial stress.
The Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet as the country continues to report over 40,000 positive cases each day. And, the only solution that one has right now to meet the exorbitant hospitalisation costs not just for Covid-19 but every other illness is comprehensive health insurance with ‘adequate’ sum insured.
As per a GIC report, roughly, two-thirds of India’s total population does not have any health insurance policy and those who have health insurance do not have a plan that provides adequate coverage. Adding to the misery is the fact that due to the overpopulation of India, government healthcare facilities are always overcrowded and this prompts people to spend from their own pockets for better treatment of their loved ones in a private healthcare facility.
People whose health insurance cover has fallen short to repay their hospital bills today accept that until hospitalization due to Covid-19, they had no reason to believe that their medical insurance may fall significantly short. People never thought of being insured for any amount more than Rs 10 lakh – Rs 15 lakh as they just bought health insurance according to the rates for any other treatment and this is where all went wrong.
Often people when buying health insurance do not keep a plethora of important factors in mind including buying the right sum insured/coverage, the rising medical inflation rate, and cover for illnesses that may require hospitalisation up to 30–45 days.
It is time for people to invest more in buying larger medical insurance plans to secure themselves and their loved ones adequately against any medical emergency. With constant innovations in health insurance products, insurers have come up with health insurance plans with up to Rs 1 crore sum insured. In fact, these plans are available at almost the same price as that of a Rs 15 lakh – Rs 20 lakh sum insured plan.
For instance, a Rs 20 lakh sum insured plan for a 30-year-old individual costs Rs 900 per month and a Rs 1 crore sum insured plan for the same individual costs Rs 1,000 per month. Higher sum insured health insurance plans are perfect to meet all your and your family’s health care needs without worrying about the cost of treatment. With a sum insured as high as Rs 1 crore, you can take the best possible treatment for any illness at your choice of hospital and city.
Higher sum insured policies can also be bought under family floater plans wherein an entire family is covered under one plan and the sum insured is shared by all lives insured. The high coverage amount caters to the risk of multiple hospitalisations within a given policy year. You can buy a plan from your choice of insurer online at the most affordable prices.
The author is Head-Health Insurance at Policybazaar.com. Views expressed are that of the author.
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