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Senior citizens at the Government General Hospital in Chennai on Monday.
Senior citizens at the Government General Hospital in Chennai on Monday.

Deepa H Ramakrishnan

There is a dire need to implement recommendations of Senior Citizens Health Insurance Committee

CHENNAI: The tax exemption to be made available additionally on payment of medical insurance premium for parents will, at least, take care of the health of neglected parents, said an elderly person after hearing Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s Budget announcements made on Friday.

The only concessions that senior citizens currently get are concessions in air and rail fares, special seats in buses and an increased slab of income tax.

High premium

When it comes to health insurance, however, they pay a higher premium than younger people. It is considered a loss-making portfolio in the industry as there are likely to be more claims from the elderly.

“Most insurance companies don’t encourage senior citizens taking mediclaim policies. The premiums are higher than what they charge younger people. We form 20 per cent of the population and a third of voters in the country and yet are not treated with respect,” said Tamil Nadu Senior Citizens and Pensioners Welfare Association general secretary S. M. Chellaswamy.

Four public sector insurance companies and a few private sector companies offer health insurance policies for senior citizens.

“The policy provides for reimbursement of hospitalisation or domiciliary hospitalisation expenses for illness or diseases suffered for accidental injuries sustained during the policy period. Our Senior Citizens’ Mediclaim policy has been devised only for those in the 60-80 age group. The insured and the spouse can be covered under the policy which has a cover of upto Rs 1.5 lakh. Every year the policy is renewed. The premium is Rs.4,000 to Rs.7,600 and from the second year onwards, we also cover pre-existing illnesses,” said V. Dhanaraj, Deputy General Manager, New India Assurance Company Ltd.

K. V. Kannankutty, who retired from State government service 22 years ago, said: “Insurance companies should charge lower premiums since most were not in a comfortable position financially. It would be nice if a scheme similar to that being implemented in Pune by the Municipal Corporation was introduced in Chennai as well. They have a health insurance welfare scheme under which the Corporation pays the premium amount to select hospitals for all senior citizens.”

The problem of health insurance for elders could be resolved if the recommendations of the Senior Citizens Health Insurance Committee constituted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) are implemented. “The committee has recommended the formation of a health insurance pool with funds from the Central Government to take care of elder’s claims”, added Mr. Chellaswamy.

According to sources in the IRDA, the members of the authority were in the process of examining the recommendations of the committee.

They had suggested an increase in tax exemption for senior citizens, which the Government had accepted, they added.

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