Why senior citizens should go for a dedicated health insurance cover

Amit Chhabra | Updated on February 06, 2020 Published on February 06, 2020

Regular plans come with caveats such as strict medical tests, higher co-payment, exclusions

Healthcare remains a critical element for senior citizens and so does a health insurance policy to cover medical emergencies. Increasing age means higher risk of health-related problems and the critical need to buy health cover. Therefore, having health insurance becomes significantly important for senior citizens dependent on the interest income from their savings or pensions.

Majority of senior citizens in India are exposed to various lifestyle diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular ailments. Considering the existing situation, insurers offer various health insurance plans for senior citizens covering their pre-existing diseases. Also, many insurers offer coverage to senior citizens, either by including some senior citizen-centric features in the general schemes or by offering special schemes.

However, considering the current medical inflation which makes affordable quality healthcare a difficult task, separate plans for senior citizens are recommended. Such plans are specifically designed cater to the needs of senior citizens.

Therefore, choosing a separate plan for senior citizens is must as regular plans come with many caveats, which include strict medical tests, higher co-payment, specific exclusions and longer waiting periods for those with pre-existing diseases. Health policies for senior citizens are easier to buy given recent regulatory changes.

Entry age

In accordance with the provisions of Regulation 12(i) in IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India) health insurance regulations 2016 titled ‘Entry and Exit Age’, all health insurance policies should provide for an entry age of at least up to 65 years.

However, there are also several health insurance products that offer coverage to customers beyond the age of 65 years. This includes Religare Health Insurance’s NCB Super Premium, Star Health’s Senior Citizens Red Carpet, HDFC Ergo My:health Suraksha Silver Smart and Max Bupa Health Insurance’s Health Companion.

Premium payment

As per a circular issued by the regulator IRDAI in September 2019, customers now have the option to pay health insurance premiums on a monthly, quarterly or a half-yearly basis, in addition to the current premium-paying option on an annual basis.

Health insurance is not part of many senior citizens’ financial planning, though they need it the most. They consider buying it but are discouraged by the costly premiums and strict conditions. However, now senior citizens can pay health insurance premiums periodically.

The terms and conditions of health insurance will continue to remain unchanged despite the difference in the premium-payment frequency. But note that this facility of paying premium in monthly/quarterly/half-yearly basis comes with a caveat — the free-look period for monthly or quarterly premiums will be considerably lower than what one gets on paying premiums yearly.

Standardised for all

Senior citizen health insurance policies are designed to cover almost all kind of medical expenses which would otherwise be borne by the person himself.

Considering the vulnerability to medical conditions and the lack of regular income that most senior citizens face, the cost of daycare treatment puts pressure on senior citizens. So, many senior citizen health policies now also cover daycare treatment.

The writer is Business Head, Health Insurance, PolicyBazaar.com

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Published on February 06, 2020
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