Health care plan for Senior Citizens:(Source: The Hindu)
Health continues to remain crucial for all specially, who need healthcare as they age. The small niggles and injuries which heal in no time, take much longer time in old age. Costs of quality medical treatment go up as you grow older. Medical treatment and hospitalization are very expensive and more so for senior citizens. As per a recent study, over the next two decades, out-of pocket medical costs for the elderly adults are likely to rise significantly. Considering the current rate of medical inflation in India, adequate health insurance has become a must -have for everyone. In case of senior citizens, health cover plan becomes more important.
Many studies suggest most senior citizens are exposed to one or the other lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, etc. This eventually increases their chances of facing medical contingencies. Considering the given scenario, buying an individual cover for your elderly parents is a sensible thing to do
WHY BUY INDEPENDENT COVERS
In the event of your parents requiring hospitalization, the major part of the medical expenses will be taken care of by your parent’s medical cover plan, without burning a hole in your pocket. Most important, even if your parents are adequately covered under a corporate health insurance policy by your employer, the cover provided by your employer would cease to exist post retirement.
While health insurance cover for parents under employer's group schemes is a source of comfort for salaried individuals, but most realize that it is not adequate. Healthcare inflation is estimated to be rising at 12-18% per annum and most group schemes offer a family floater cover of Rs 2-3 lakhs.
It is understood that some employers are either withdrawing parental coverage or placing restrictions like co-pay in claims and premium sharing to cut costs.
Given this scenario, enhancing your coverage for your parents is an absolute must. In any case, it is best to buy separate covers for your elderly parents as the chances of claims are higher, potentially leaving very little sum insured for the other family members. If your parents are adequately covered under a corporate health insurance policy by your employer, the cover provided by your employer would cease to exist post-retirement.
Choice of plans
For people looking forward to buying a health insurance plan for their parents, a family floater healthcare plan can be a good option provided the age of parents is not much and they do not have any pre-existing diseases. Such plans are specifically designed to offer insurance coverage to the entire family, including dependent parents. While some of these health insurance covers impose a limit on parent’s age, other insurers charge a high premium.
Fortunately, the Indian insurance market is crammed with numerous health insurance plans that specifically target senior citizens and even those with pre-existing diseases. It is strongly suggested to go for an independent policy rather than group policy as a group cover does not always include pre-existing diseases.
However, in an independent policy, most pre-existing diseases get covered and the chances of claims getting approved are the highest. You can even avail a tax benefit of up to Rs. 25,000 under Sec. 80D on health insurance premium paid for self, spouse, children and parents. And, in the case of elderly parents (above 60 years of age), the benefit goes up to Rs. 50,000 with the latest amendment to tax slabs. There are some crucial factors you must consider when planning to buy health insurance for your elderly parents.
Criterion for age at entry
In India, most insurance companies have entry age criteria that must be fulfilled by the individual to be eligible for buying a health insurance cover. However, the entry age guidelines vary from one insurer to another and it is always advised to compare different policies offered by different providers.
It is important to consider the age of the policy-seeker before taking the policy as it plays an important role in deciding the premium. While a particular health insurance cover may look attractive for different factors and features, if the entry age is not matched; it is worthless buying the policy.
Extent of coverage
While buying health insurance cover, do make sure to select a plan that offers extensive coverage.
Pick a plan that promises adequate coverage against various critical illnesses, particularly pre-existing diseases. Though most insurers provide coverage against these diseases after a waiting period, which is typically 2-3 years, it is always advised to review the policy document to understand the conditions carefully.
The total sum insured plays a very important role in any health insurance policy. This is typically the amount that the insurer will reimburse against the expenses incurred for medical treatment.
However, the incurred expenses must be within the total sum insured. While buying a health insurance policy for your elderly parents, it is always advised to go in for a higher sum insured, as you will receive a larger amount for medical emergencies.
Very few insurers insure senior citizens, unless they opt for co-payment. Co-payment means a certain percentage, or a certain fixed amount of the claim must be paid by the insured. (Senior Citizen Him/Herself). The insurer insists that co-payment is compulsory for senior citizens above a certain age. So, the premiums are quite low on the senior citizens health insurance plans, because of the co-payment clause.
Do not opt for a very high co-payment, just to get discounts on the premiums in the senior citizens health insurance plan. In case of a claim, (these can be very high in the case of senior citizens), you would be paying most of the hospitalization bills.
Pick an insurer who asks for the lowest possible co-pay even though premiums on the senior citizens health insurance plan might be slightly high.
Points to be kept in mind when choosing a senior citizens health insurance plan:
- While buying health insurance cover, do make sure to select a plan that offers extensive coverage.
- Check the claim settlement ratio of the insurer. If an insurer has a very high claim settlement ratio, the chances of settling claims are high.
- Check the network hospitals under the senior citizen health insurance plan. Make sure a hospital of preference is included under the network hospitals.
- Make sure the plan includes costs of daycare treatment like dialysis, chemotherapy and so on. Opt for cashless treatment.
Insure the health of Senior Citizens, Parents/ Parents- in Law and protect yourself and your near and dear ones.
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