“Health, Medicare, Hospitalizations” – Since last nine months, the world, including India, has been battling Coronavirus, and these three words are invariably now a part of most conversations.
COVID or No-COVID, health challenges in our country, the need for adequate healthcare for all and relevance of health insurance are not being highlighted for the first time.
The on-going pandemic is merely reiterating what we already know and magnifying the urgency to secure the most vulnerable amongst us – Our Senior Citizens.
Ageing, as an irreversible process, by default invites all sorts of health complexities, weak immunity and in many cases it leads to frequent hospital visits. Lifestyle diseases, medical inflation and unpredictable once-in-a-century medical crises make things worse.
The Solution? Health Insurance for Senior Citizens.
Let’s briefly understand the benefits of health insurance policies for senior citizens and critical factors to keep in mind while choosing plans for the elderly in India. We’ll also explore some of the most sought-after medical policies and plans.
Benefits of Health Insurance for Senior Citizens (60 or Above)
- A must-have at the end of your professional career, around the age of 56-60.
- Addresses increasing susceptibilities to age-related health complications, declining resistance, reduction in income due to retirement and spiralling medicare costs.
- Buying health insurance early results in a substantial difference in premium.
- Some mediclaim policies for senior citizens may not require pre-medical tests. Depending on specific plans, they also bring free health check-ups.
- Senior citizens, owing to higher risks, often get enhanced sum-insured amounts and cashless hospitalisations.
- As senior citizens tend to respond favourably to alternate therapies, they get access to AYUSH benefits and coverage for hospitalisation expenses while undergoing Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy or Siddha treatments.
- Added COVID-19 protection.
- Fast and convenient claim-settlement procedures.
- Tax benefits-Section 80D of up to 25,000 rupees on premiums paid for yourself, your spouse, children, and parents. For elderly parents, over 60, they go up to 50,000 rupees.
- Option to buy or renew the health insurance policy online.
Must-Pay-Attention-To While Finalising Health Insurance for the Elderly
- Prefer an independent policy over group health insurance, as it may not cover pre-existing diseases. Also, the likelihood of claims getting approved is the highest in the case of independent insurance.
- Consider a comprehensive health insurance indemnity plan offering sufficient coverage against most ailments.
- Think of a senior citizen plan only when the individual is above the age of 60 and not yet covered by any health insurance.
- Cross-verify his/her medical history.
- Compare sum-insured, features, add-on covers, network hospital coverage, sub-limits, claim benefits, essential clauses and premiums from multiple health insurance providers.
- Try to opt for a lower waiting period, maximum in-patient hospitalisation coverage, minimum limitations on post-hospitalisation expenses, and at least 10 lakh rupees sum-insured.
- If possible, augment the sum-insured at a low cost by purchasing a super-top-up over and above the base plan.
- Ensure all pre-existing conditions or co-morbidities are covered.
- Buy a critical-illness cover along with regular health insurance.
- Check for daycare facilities and policy exclusions.
- Confirm co-payment options and lifetime-renewability.
Top Health Insurance Policies & Plans for Senior Citizens
1] Bajaj Allianz Silver Health Insurance
- High entry age: Up to 70 years.
- Sum-insured: 50,000-50,00,000 rupees.
- Covers pre-existing illnesses until one year after the policy issue.
- Pre and post-hospitalisation [60/90 days].
- Ambulance cover: Up to 1,000 rupees.
- Cumulative bonus: 10%, up to the limit of indemnity for each claim-free year.
- Free health check-up: At the end of four consecutive claim-free years.
- Waiver of co-payment.
2] Bharti AXA Senior Citizen Health Insurance
- Coverage: Up to 1 crore rupees.
- Restoration of the sum insured: Up to 100%.
- Pan-India cashless network of hospitals.
- Pre and post-hospitalisation [60/90 days].
- 98.27% claim-settlement ratio.
- No-claim bonus: Up to 100% of the sum-insured.
3] TATA AIG MediSenior Senior Citizen Health Insurance
- A network of 3,000+ hospitals.
- Pre and post-hospitalisation [30/60 days].
- Inpatient treatment, hospitalisation expense: Room rent, ICU, nursing, medicines, drugs, and consumables.
- Ambulance charges: Up to 2,000 rupees/hospitalisation.
- Kidney and other organ transplant expenses are also covered.
- Up to 140 days for care procedures without hospitalisation.
- Treatment at the home option if you/your spouse needs it during an emergency.
- 7.5% discount on policy premium if you pre-pay the premium of two years. 5% family discount if two family members are covered under this policy.
4] Reliance Healthgain Health Insurance
- Individual and floater plans.
- Sum-insured: 3,00,000-18,00,000 rupees.
- Pre and post-hospitalization [60 days].
- Inpatient and daycare treatments: Cover illnesses/injuries where the insured gets hospitalised for more than 24 consecutive hours, daycare treatments for surgeries or procedures where the insured needs less than 24 hours of hospitalization due to advanced technology.
- Domestic road ambulance: Up to 1,500 rupees.
- Cumulative bonus: 33.33% increase in base sum-insured for each claim-free year, up to 100%.
- 7.5% discount for two years policy.
- 5% discount for a girl child/independent women.
5] HDFC ERGO (formerly known as Apollo Munich Health Insurance) My Health Suraksha Silver Smart, Gold Smart & Medisure Super Top-up Plans
- Sum insured: 3,00,000-15,00,000 rupees.
- Pre and post-hospitalization [60/180 days].
- Covers in-hospitalization expenses: Bed/nursing charges, blood tests, ICU and consultation.
- Get lump-sum 5,000/15,000 rupees as recovery benefit if hospitalisation exceeds 10 consecutive days.
- Additional sum-insured, up to the base sum-insured, even if your existing one gets exhausted.
- 586 daycare procedures.
- 5% discount on the premium for opting 2 years policy.
- 10% discount for covering a family of more than 2 members on an individual sum-insured basis.
The COVID-19 treatment cost is significantly high for senior citizens and spendings on cures for life-threatening diseases like cancer, kidney failure, or bypass surgery are going up by every passing year.
Growing old calls for more caution. Group health insurance might not be enough. Undoubtedly, the premiums for separate senior citizen mediclaim policies could be higher than health plans for the younger population. That being said, it’s worth spending some extra amount to safeguard your, your parents’ and other loved ones’ hard-earned savings during future medical emergencies.
Sources: Policyholder.gov.in, Medindia.net, Turtlemint.com, Moneycontrol.com, Economictimes.com, Bloomberg Quint, Financialexpress.com, Etmoney.com, The Pioneer, Wikipedia.com, YouTube.com and other information channels.