Ignoring the basics is one mistake almost all of us commit. An appropriate health cover in line with the increased life expectancy and spiraling healthcare cost is rarely found.
Why is it that we continue to take health for granted?
Why is it that you take your car insurance on time and get it covered adequately,but when it comes to your heath,you go into a penny pinching mode. Isnt your health more important than the car?
Why health cover?
Individuals working in private and public sectors get health cover from their respective employers. So,you take the stance that since Im insured by my organisation,its sufficient. What has been noticed many a times is that the sum insured is the bare minimum.
Also,there is a new trend that only a certain percentage of the premium for sum insured is required to be paid by the employees. This leaves you open to risk.
The very nature of insurance is to cover the risk adequately and appropriately. Its not advisable to gamble (to take a lower sum assured) or to be penny pinching (to get the cheapest) for the insurance cover. Today,with frequent job-hopping and retrenchment in the corporate world,you will be open to risk exposure. Moreover,in the gap between changing jobs,if you do not have a health cover and,unfortunately,you do get hospitalised,all the expenses will have to be borne out of your personal resources. This can be an overwhelming experience,both emotionally and financially.
A hospital stay of a week can set you back by nearly R1-2 lakh,to say the minimum. A simple cataract operation can cost you R15,000R40,000. These are merely indicative expenses. But if you have a health cover,these costs are met by the insurance company and you do not have to dip into your personal resources.
So,its advisable to have your own personal health cover,besides the one which is offered by your employer. Treat the one offered by the employer as complimentary an additional cover,to mitigate any unforeseen expenses,over and above your personal health cover.
Moreover,with the kind of sedentary lifestyle,contracting lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension is very much possible.
Most health insurance companies have a waiting period clause of 2-4 years for such cases. All the more reason you have your personal healthcare cover in place to cover them.
How to choose a health cover?
With the passage of time,the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) has become more friendly.
Life-long coverage,if taken once,has now become the norm. Instances of cease of insurance cover post 70 or 80 years has been dispensed with. Before you choose the type of cover,do run through a checklist.
Ensure that you have a cover for at least 5-10 days of hospitalisation expenses,in a year,if required. It can either be R1 lakh or R10 lakh.
Another way to look at it is to allocate 1-3% of your net income,subject to a threshold amount (which you can decide) towards healthcare cost.
Remember,insurance is cover against risk and nothing else.
Other things to consider
Ensure that the insurance provider has a good network of hospitals. Ensure that you have correctly filled the form (do not leave it to the agent or the insurer to fill the forms) and disclose your medical history truthfully. For example,if you are consuming 10 sticks of cigarette a day,do mention it to the insurer. Your claim,if any,can be rejected completely for wrong or incomplete disclosure.
Health insurance is today considered more as an afterthought rather than being the basics. Make sure that you remain healthy,but in case,you have to be hospitalised,your health insurance will ensure that your wealth is not depleted.
The writer is founder & managing partner of Zeus WealthWays LLP