The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to think about our health and the financial costs associated with medical treatments. Currently, the treatment costs for the novel coronavirus are around ₹5-6 lakhs without ventilator support. However, it is believed that this virus causes more serious symptoms in people above 60 years of age or those with co-morbidity conditions like diabetes, heart problems, etc. This means that our old parents are at a higher risk. Also, the treatment cost for patients who require ventilator support is around ₹10-12 lakhs.
If the human body is assumed to be like a machine, with time, wear and tear sets in, and illnesses and medical emergencies increase. In other words, as we grow old, we become more prone to requiring medical care and attention. In India, while the inflation rate is around 5-6%, health care inflation is around 12-18% per annum. This means that nearly after every5-7 years, the cost of a treatment doubles. While a medical emergency is a difficult time for the individual and the family, the hospital bills can add to the worries by denting your finances. Therefore, if you have old parents or any senior citizens living with you, then buying a health insurance policy for them is essential.
Specialized Senior Citizen Health Insurance Policies
If your parents are senior citizens, then you can look at specialized senior citizen policies offered by most insurance companies like Tata AIG. Since these policies are designed for the elderly, they have specific features as explained below:
- Regular policies have a waiting period of around four years for pre-existing illnesses or disease. In senior citizen policies, the waiting period is usually shorter (around 1-2 years).
- Since insurance companies are aware of the higher possibility of medical treatment in senior citizens, many policies offer a co-payment option. In this option, the insurer pays for a pre-determined percentage of the cost, and the balance is supposed to be borne by the policyholder for pre-existing ailments. While this might seem excessive, it is a good option considering the fact that most senior citizens find it difficult to get a health insurance policy
- Usually, senior citizen health insurance policies have higher premiums. To give you a rough estimate, if a health insurance policy is providing a cover of ₹10 lakh charges ₹10,000 as a premium to a 40-year old male, then it can go as high as ₹90,000 for an 80-year old male.
- Most senior citizen health plans do not require any pre-medical screening as they usually include pre-existing diseases with a waiting period.
Why should you opt for a senior citizen health insurance plan for your parents?
A health insurance plan designed for senior citizens offers the following benefits:
- These policies cover all costs pertaining to your parent’s pre/post-hospitalization expenses, ambulance services, and other associated costs.
- Since medical attention and old age usually go hand-in-hand, a health insurance policy can ensure that your parents get the best treatment without worrying about finances.
- With lifestyle disorders like diabetes and hypertension prevalent in youngsters too, most senior citizens have some pre-existing conditions that require regular treatment. Most senior citizen policies cover these costs after a waiting period.
- Since healthcare costs are constantly rising, a health insurance policy can financially safeguard your family against sudden medical exigencies.
- There are tax benefits that you can avail of on the premium amount paid for a health insurance policy for your parent.
Aspects to consider before buying health insurance for your parents
If an insurer is offering health cover for senior citizens, then look for the following aspects:
- It should cover most costs associated with in-patient treatment at a hospital, like room rent, nursing, ICU costs, doctor’s fees, blood/oxygen costs, medicines & consumables, etc.
- The insurer must reimburse pre-hospitalization expenses for tests and diagnostics for the condition for which hospitalization is needed.
- After discharge from the hospital, doctors usually ask patients to take some tests or visit them for consultation. The policy must cover these post-hospitalization costs.
- Usually, hospitalization costs are reimbursed when the patient is admitted for more than 24 hours. However, some surgeries or treatments can take less than a day too. Hence, ensure that the policy covers the costs for such daycare procedures.
- The policy must cover costs associated with the domiciliary treatment where your parent needs to be treated at home instead of a hospital.
- Look for a policy that covers the organ donor’s costs for harvesting the organ as sometimes senior citizens require such procedures.
- It should cover costs associated with emergency ambulance services.
- The policy must cover pre-existing diseases with a minimum waiting period.
Look for different insurers and compare policies offering senior citizen health insurance online.
Remember, as your parents grow old, it is your responsibility to take care of them and their needs. Therefore, buying a comprehensive health insurance policy for your parents is a financially responsible decision. Stay Safe!