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How to buy health insurance for senior citizens

healthinsurance seniorcitizens covid19

In a world where senior citizens are at the highest risk of getting severely affected due to the Coronavirus, it is prudent to cover them under a comprehensive health insurance policy apart from vaccination against COVID19.

The health risks our seniors face are many – two in every three senior citizens in India suffer from some chronic disease, according to the first Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) released by the Union Ministry of Family and Health Welfare in January 2020. Around 23 percent of the elderly population (60 years and above) have multi-morbidities and elderly women are more likely to have multi-morbidity conditions, the report said.

Despite this, majority of the senior citizens are uninsured, or underinsured.

“The industry has not been seeing big numbers of COVID-specific policy sales off late. By now people have understood that they should go for a complete protection health insurance plan which can help them in the long run,” said Dr S Prakash, MD – Star Health and Allied Insurance.

Compared to last year, more people are showing interest in increasing their renewal sum insured, he added.

So in case you’re planning to buy a corona specific health insurance policy for your parents namely either Corona Kavach or Corona Rakshak, you need to revisit the decision.

“Corona specific plans do not provide coverage to individuals aged over 65 years,” as per Dhirendra Mahyavanshi, Co-Founder of Turtlemint.

“However, there are other regular health insurance plans and senior citizen plans which do. Some insurers provide coverage for any age without any restriction on the entry age. Some plans also provide OPD and day-care coverage as well as COVID related hospitalisations and domiciliary treatments due to COVID,” he added.

The reasons to get your parents insured with an all encompassing health insurance are many, but to highlight the top few:

  1. It offers them the dignity of getting treated for their diseases without worrying about the financial burden/dent in savings.
  2. If one gets treated in a network hospital, the facilities are cashless, i.e., there is little out of pocket expense, since the insurer will be directly settling the bills with the hospital.
  3. A comprehensive health insurance plan protects the seniors from cardiovascular diseases, COVID19, accidental injuries and other health emergencies.
  4. It offers them lifelong policy renewability, and hence lifelong coverage

As per T A Ramalingam, CTO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, “People above 65 years can be covered under health indemnity plans. Some plans of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance extend cover up to 100 years or beyond without any upper cap on entry age. However, medical screening is required to opt for a health policy at this age.”

A cover in the range of Rs5 lakh to Rs15 lakh should be ideal, given their pre-existing conditions, city of residence, age etc.

One can bundle a base health insurance plan plus a top up plan as the ideal cost-effective coverage option. In case of purchasing a health insurance for your parents, the following points need to be kept in mind:

  1. Choose policies that offer them adequate sum insured, i.e., the maximum pay-out in the event of a claims scenario.
  2. Check and compare policy coverage, benefits, network hospitals, claims servicing by the insurer, before finalising.
  3. Declare pre-existing diseases that your parents might have.
  4. Sign them up for medical evaluation mandatory for availing a health insurance policy.

“One should definitely have a comprehensive health insurance policy for their parents. You should also evaluate the adequacy of the Sum Insured, i.e. – in the event of a hospitalization, will the sum insured opted for your parents, suffice or not? If not, then you can take a top-up insurance plan to increase their sum insured to ensure an all-round protection,” said Dr Sudha Reddy, Head – Health & Travel, Digit Insurance.

While our mothers have always sacrificed their health and time for our well-being, this mother’s day, let us do our bit in ensuring them the best medical care and support by gifting them protection and peace in the form of an adequate health insurance coverage.

(Elizabeth Mathai is a Kochi-based content creator and a therapist, with expertise in insurance)

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