Health insurance seems to corner a large mindshare among the insuring public and also CoverNote readers. Most questions received on Ask Us, as well as the queries I receive personally offline relate to hospitalisation policies. Conversations start with the angst that the insurance intermediaries at best give some half-truths and, in the absence of any comprehensive source of advice, it is very much a ‘buyers beware’ market.

This troubles senior citizens way more as they are acutely aware of the need for effective health insurance.

On a related note, it is heartening to note that many in their 20s and 30s are thinking ahead and opting for health insurance, sometimes over and above what their employer offers them, and also exploring how their parents can be protected.

Having no insurance is one kind of misfortune. But having inadequate or inappropriate insurance definitely adds salt to the wound. This fear led one reader to bemoan, “Is there no option but to learn by trial and error?”

Questions and doubts include: How the premium is decided? How much insurance is optimal? Since medical inflation triggers increased premium rates, why isn’t there a sure way to increase sum insured as well? Why are age and health history deterrents to increasing sum insured? Why don’t hospitalisation policies pay expenses in full? Why is there disparity among companies and even different policies of a company, in pre-underwriting medical test requirements? How does this impact claim settlement and how is the customer protected from arbitrary claims denials? Why are there sub-limits which force a higher sum insured? Why then is there a rider to overcome this limitation?

We have talked about some of these already on CoverNote and a revisit and update is always useful. We will look at these and more questions in upcoming instalments of CoverNote.

Increased interest in health insurance is good. But there is also a growing set of people asking, ‘with so many shortcomings and at such a high price over years, why can’t I just ignore health insurance, develop a healthy lifestyle and create my own medical fund’. Valid stand.

Cynically put, one can just pray for good health or, in the case of expensive ill-health, for quick deliverance.

(The writer is a business journalist specialising in insurance & corporate history)