Health insurance is often compared to a parachute because you do not realise it’s worth until you need it. It helps you tide over the medical exigency by taking care of the healthcare expenses. Now, we shall discuss five ways how health insurance can help you in managing health care expenses.
Before that let’s understand why you need health insurance?
The question is a valid one. You can argue that you are healthy and do not see any chance of suffering from major illnesses in the near future. Yes, there is merit in your arguments, but will the situation ever be the same as you grow old? The out of pocket expenses are increasing exponentially with every passing day. In case of any medical emergencies, you might need to undergo expensive treatments including advanced diagnostic procedures and surgery. There are pre and post-operative expenses to contend with. In short, a medical emergency can drain out your finances in no time. Hence, it is prudent to invest in a good health insurance plan.
Do not worry about your hospitalisation expenses
In the present environment, hospitalisation costs can be prohibitive. If your illness requires hospitalisation for more than a week in a reputed hospital, your bank balance would quickly feel lighter by more than a lakh of rupees. However, health insurance can help you in this regard by taking care of your hospitalisation expenses.
You have cashless insurance plans at networked hospitals where the patient need not pay anything at all. The health insurance company settles the payments on your behalf. Thus, you can concentrate on your recovery instead of worrying about finances. Therefore, health insurance can prove to be a boon for patients, as they do not have to break their heads to arrange for hospitalisation expenses.
Almost all the prominent health insurance companies offer cashless health insurance. All the patient has to do is to share the policy number or hand over the health insurance card at the hospital. The insurance company will handle the claim quickly and efficiently.
Avail Convalescence Benefits
We have seen that health insurance companies have cashless insurance plans to take care of hospitalisation. Apart from hospitalisation (bed charges) expenses, the health insurance policy ensures that the patient gets a daily cash allowance for medicines, diagnostic tests, and other costs. This benefit does not depend on the amount of cash you actually spend daily. It is usually, a lump sum amount given by the insurance company depending on the nature of your treatment. The amount can vary from one hospital to the other.
Besides, some health insurance policies include convalescence benefits where the insurance company pays you a pre-decided sum if the hospitalisation period exceeds over a specific period.
Your medical expenses do not start and end with the hospitalisation. There can be pre-hospitalisation tests such as X-rays, CT Scans, and so on to determine the intensity of the problem. Similarly, there are post-hospitalisation expenses such as medicines, cost of bandages, OPT costs after discharge from the hospital, and so on. Your health insurance policy takes care of such expenses, as well.
Take care of life-threatening critical illnesses through rider or special plans
Specific illnesses such as cancer, stroke, kidney failure, and paralysis come outside the realm of your regular health insurance plans. These ailments can be life-threatening. Such illnesses are classified as critical illnesses. The treatment for such diseases is a lifelong procedure. Hence, they come outside the purview of the regular health insurance policies. However, you can get such critical illnesses covered via a rider or by a stand alone critical illness plan..
Allied benefits of health insurance
Medical expenses are not restricted to hospitalisation, or pre and post-operative care. There are other expenses, such as health checkups, consultation fees, pre-emptive diagnostic procedures, and so on. Usually, these expenses do not fall under the regular health insurance policy framework.
The health system has evolved considerably in India with almost all healthcare service providers offering such allied benefits. The prime example is that of a diabetic patient. A diabetic need not undergo hospitalisation for his/her treatment. There is a need to control the diet. Hence, the patient could prefer to consult nutritionists and have regular checkups to prevent the diabetic condition from becoming life-threatening. These activities cost money. Health insurance companies have recognised these facts, and introduced specific health insurance policies to cater to such requirements. Though these might just be the frills to make the product attractive, these allied benefits sometimes prove to be very useful.
Some examples of allied benefits include,
- Free health checkups at regular intervals
- Consultation with nutritionists and other health therapists
- Tie-up arrangements with specific health service providers
- Free consultation with medical experts
- Discount coupons on various healthcare services
Avail tax benefits to safeguard your finances
We have discussed earlier that people could be reluctant to invest in health insurance because of the “It will surely not happen to me” syndrome. This mentality is not the right one to adopt. Medical emergencies can come unannounced. Therefore, it is better to invest in a health insurance policy early in life. The golden rule of health insurance is that you should invest in insurance when you are healthy.
The Government of India encourages people to invest in health insurance. They have announced income tax benefits to induce people to invest more. For example, a medical insurance premium up to Rs 25,000 per annum is eligible for deduction under Section 80D of IT Act. This premium can be for the health insurance of the self, spouse, and dependent children. The IT rules also allow you to invest in protection for your aged parents. The maximum IT deduction available for medical premium for senior citizens is Rs 50,000. Apart from these benefits, the rules permit you to claim expenses incurred for preventive health check-ups up to Rs 5,000 in a financial year.
These incentives should spur people to invest in a health insurance policy. You never know when you will need one. Coming back to the parachute analogy, if you do not have one, you might not need one in the future. We trust you get the point.