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Health Insurance Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of buying health insurance, and now you need to be more meticulous in your approach.

  • 28 Apr 2022
  • min read
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The COVID-19 pandemic tossed life off gear in a matter of weeks throwing global economies in disarray. While the trail of devastation because of the deadly virus is well-documented, it also gave several critical lessons on different aspects, with health insurance being one of them.

The once-in-a-century pandemic gave essential lessons on imbibing health insurance, which can help you stay better prepared should such an event occur in the future. What are these? Let’s find out.

Health Insurance is Not a Want Anymore

While the need for health insurance plans was always there, many people took it as an unnecessary expense. There was no significant urge to buy health insurance among the majority of the people. However, the pandemic changed this outlook. Data shows that people purchasing comprehensive health insurance plans stood at approximately 32% during pre-COVID times, and it shot up to 55% after the pandemic.

Insurers witnessed a significant demand for health plans coming their way - a testament that health insurance is not a want but a modern-day need. Financial literacy advocates have always highlighted the need and importance of health insurance in one’s portfolio; it took a pandemic of this magnitude to drive home the point.

So, if you don’t want your finances to take a dip because of COVID-19, it’s paramount to buy a health insurance plan at the earliest.

Have Adequate Sum Insured

Sum insured is one of the vital aspects to look for while buying health insurance, and it is the maximum amount your insurer pays in case of hospitalisation. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of purchasing health insurance plans and what was earlier thought to be adequate is not the case now.

Many cases have come to the fore where hospitalisation bills have run into lakhs of rupees and are significantly higher than the sum insured offered by the policy. Hence, it’s essential to opt for a plan with a high sum insured to minimise out-of-pocket expenses. If you live in a metro, where treatment costs are higher than non-metros, it’s prudent to opt for a policy with a sum insured of at least Rs. 15 to 20 lakhs.

Though it pushes up the premium, it will come to your rescue, should you need hospitalisation. Another way to ensure adequate coverage is to avail a top-up plan. A top-up plan is cheap and works on the concept of deductible. Once you have paid the deductible amount mentioned in the top-up plan through your base policy, the benefits kick in. It’s a cost-effective way to ensure you have a wider net to deal with large COVID-19 bills.

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Opt for a Floater Plan

There are ample cases when more than one family member has landed in a hospital due to the virus. The financial strain of such families hit the roof. Hence, all members of your family must have health insurance. While it’s a costly proposition to buy individual health insurance plans for all, a family floater plan can help.

Health insurance plans for families are widely available that provide coverage to all members. It’s cost-effective and an ideal solution to offer coverage to every family member in these testing times. The premium for such plans depends on the age of the eldest member, and therefore, it’s advisable to opt for a plan as early as possible. If you have parents who are senior citizens, you can opt for health plans tailored specifically for them.

Though such plans have some limitations, they help save a significant amount of money during hospitalization. Compare different policies and choose the one that best suits your requirements.

Factor in Room Rent Limits

Factor in Room Rent Limits

Hospitals across the country had to set up dedicated COVID-19 wards, which pushed up hospitalization costs and room rents. While buying health insurance plans now, it’s essential to ensure that you closely look at the cap on room rents. It’s advisable to opt for a plan with higher room rent to reduce expenses from your pocket.

Though it may require a high premium, given the present times, it’s prudent to avail a health insurance plan that has a higher limit on room rent. Since COVID-19 patients require special arrangements, a high limit on room rent will ensure that funds are not a paucity in receiving dedicated care

Don’t Depend Solely on Health Insurance Plan from Your Employer

This is another crucial health insurance lesson to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. While group health plans are beneficial, they may not prove to be adequate, and you may end up spending a considerable amount of money from your pocket in case you are hospitalized. So, it’s advisable to opt for an individual plan to remain covered.

Also, if you are switching jobs, the benefits of a group health plan may not be applicable. So, it would help if you had a standalone health plan for an added layer of cushion.

Conclusion

There is still some time to go before we are out of the pandemic’s grip. Health insurance is one of the several tools in your arsenal that will help you combat the pandemic with gusto without burning a hole in your pocket. If you are yet to buy a  health insurance plan, do so at the earliest. On the other hand, if you already have a policy, review it to plug the gaps.

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