Personal Finance

Five tips to choosing health insurance

Ravi Vishwanath | Updated on December 15, 2012 Published on December 15, 2012

The need for health insurance is no more a debatable topic. All of us need a health plan to cover any medical emergencies.

Sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits have also led to a rise in chronic ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiac diseases and gastrointestinal diseases.

These diseases could require long-term medical attention, resulting in a steep rise in expenses.

While many believe that employer provided health insurance coverage is adequate, a job change or changes in the benefits offered under an employer provided cover could negatively affect one’s family finances.

Here are five basic tenets to consider while choosing the most appropriate health insurance policy for you and your family.

Get insured early

Health risks increase with growing age and to be applicable for the pre-existing disease coverage, you would need to spend at least three years in a waiting period. Hence, it is advisable to opt for an adequate health cover at an early age. An early start to a health insurance cover would ensure the completion of waiting periods when you may need it the most.

Coverage and Sublimits

You must understand the importance of an adequate sum insured to cover you and your family. A lower priced health insurance policy is not necessarily the best policy. With the number of policies on offer today, you must choose the most appropriate option in terms of features, waiting period, exclusions and inclusions. You must look for policies that provide basic features such as lifelong renewal, cashless transactions, no sub-limits, large network of healthcare providers and no claims loading.

The sum insured level you finally choose should be determined by the city of residence, number of family members and the age group you fall in. A person in the middle to young age group should have an indemnity cover of at least Rs 4-5 lakh. In case of a married individual, it would be wise to choose a family floater plan of Rs 5-7.5 lakh sum insured, covering the individual and spouse.

Do it yourself

You should always fill up your own proposal form and not depend on agents or any third party. The information shared through the form should always be correct and authentic. You should refrain from hiding any information or overwriting on the proposal form. Inadequate information or exclusion of medical conditions during the proposal time can lead to issues of delayed or non-payment of claims during times of need.

Read and understand

Read, read, read! We cannot emphasise this enough. During the health insurance selection process, you must thoroughly read through all the documentation of the various health insurance providers. Insurance companies do provide sample policy wordings to potential customers to enable them to review benefits, definitions, terms, conditions and exclusions in detail. Without a comparison of what is available and what is not, you will be unable to arrive at a qualified decision on your final policy requirement. You should seek the advice of independent insurance advisors, and also consider product comparison information that is available on the Internet. These will provide you with a clear picture as to what your final policy should comprise of.

Clear your doubts

Before making the final decision, take time to read all the documents once again. Ask your advisor or the insurance company as many questions as you can to clarify all your concerns. It will clear any confusion or doubts that may exist.

Once you have ensured that you have carefully pondered over the above points, you will be in a positive position to choose your insurance provider. Congratulations. You are on your way to a secure future.

(The author is Chief Marketing Officer, Apollo Munich Health Insurance.)

Published on December 15, 2012
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