Healthcare continues to remain a crucial lifeline for elderly citizens who need healthcare as they age. However, as per a recent tudy, over the next two decades, out-of-pocket medical costs for older adults are likely to rise significantly.
Considering the current rate of medical inflation in India, adequate health insurance has become a must-have for each and every individual, and if the individual happens to be your parents, the need for buying a senior citizen health insurance plan becomes all the more important.
We all must accept the fact of life that as we age, it’s not just our experience that increases, the list of medical ailments also witness a substantial increase.
Many studies suggest a majority of senior citizens in India are exposed to one or the other lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, etc. This eventually increases their chances of facing medical contingencies. Considering the given scenario, buying an individual cover for your elderly parents is a sensible thing to do.
In the event of your parents requiring hospitalisation, the major part of the medical expenses will be taken care of by your parents’ medical cover plan, without burning a hole in your pocket. Most important, even if your parents are adequately covered under a corporate health insurance policy by your employer, the cover provided by your employer would cease to exist post-retirement.
This makes it important for you as caring and responsible children to purchase a separate senior citizen health insurance plan.
Choice of plans
For people looking forward to buy a health insurance plan for their parents, a family floater healthcare plan can be a good option provided the age of parents is not much and they do not have any pre-existing diseases. Such plans are specifically designed to offer insurance coverage to the entire family, including dependent parents. While some of these health insurance covers impose a limit on parents’ age, other insurers charge a high premium.
Fortunately, the Indian insurance market is crammed with numerous health insurance plans that specifically target senior citizens and even those with pre-existing diseases. It is strongly suggested to go for an independent policy rather than group policy as a group cover does not always include pre-existing diseases.
However, in an independent policy, most pre-existing diseases get covered and the chances of claims getting approved are the highest. You can even avail a tax benefit of up to ₹25,000 under Sec. 80D on health insurance premium paid for self, spouse, children and parents. And, in the case of elderly parents (above 60 years of age), the benefit goes up to ₹50,000 with the latest amendment to tax slabs. There are some crucial factors you must consider when planning to buy health insurance for your elderly parents.
Criterion for age at entry
In India, most insurance companies have entry age criteria that must be fulfilled by the individual to be eligible for buying a health insurance cover. However, the entry age guidelines vary from one insurer to another and it is always advised to compare different policies offered by different providers.
It is important to consider the age of the policy-seeker before taking the policy as it plays an important role in deciding the premium. While a particular health insurance cover may look attractive for different factors and features, if the entry age is not matched; it is worthless buying the policy.
Extent of coverage
While buying health insurance cover, do make sure to select a plan that offers extensive coverage.
Pick a plan that promises adequate coverage against various critical illnesses, particularly pre-existing diseases. Though most insurers provide coverage against these diseases after a waiting period, which is typically 2-3 years, it is always advised to review the policy document to understand the conditions carefully.
The total sum insured plays a very important role in any health insurance policy. This is typically the amount that the insurer will reimburse against the expenses incurred for medical treatment.
However, the incurred expenses must be within the total sum insured. While buying a health insurance policy for your elderly parents, it is always advised to go in for a higher sum insured, as you will receive a larger amount for medical emergencies.
(The author is Business Head, Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com)