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Health Insurance for Parents: A Must Buy!

Growing up is a task so is growing old. Turning sixty is a major milestone. Do you realize how much your parents have toiled to bring you up?

Most people reading this article are financially independent adults, with parents who retired or about to retire from their jobs. With age catching up inevitably, it becomes more and more necessary for them to be medically insured. Practically speaking, the health care costs are rising by 15-18% each year and soon, a heart operation that costs Rs. 4.5 lakhs today will cost about Rs. 11 lakhs in the next five years.

Human psychology is such that medical emergencies always happen to other people, probably because it is too depressing a thing to think about. However, we all know the truth it is best to be prepared for such unforeseen things that can unfortunately happen to anyone, especially if our loved ones are at stake. There are special health insurance plans dedicated to parents, giving you an opportunity to make their lives more peaceful and safer.

Most of us don't do this but now it is probably our turn to take care of them and in turn you ensure you don't break the bank, if they fall ill. Works well, if you plan well.

So do for yourself and for them a favour. Don't delay - research well and buy them good health insurance. It is the only tool that paves way for a happy and financially stress free retirement.

So, what do you look for in your parent's health insurance plan? That's o.k., do not stress yourself. Here goes your check list:

What You Should Look For

AGE LIMIT: If it provides cover for anyone over the age of 60 and permits entry right up to the age of 80 and guaranteed renewal thereafter. The points of senior citizen health insurance comparison can be max age at renewability.

Why: You want to cover your parents for as long as it's possible. The older one gets, more the expenses mount. Hence, when picking a plan for your folks, check till what age the plan can be renewed. Options are few, going wrong once could mean not being able to get health insurance later.

PRE EXISTING ILLNESS: It should be covered subject to terms and conditions. No senior citizen health insurance in India will cover everything from the word go. It's tricky to cover health for older people. So a lot of clauses exist, which exclude certain pre-exisitng conditions or ailments. You need to check that after running the policy for a few years, do such illnesses start getting covered?

Why: You need to ensure that the exclusion list is the smallest possible. Smallest possible when you buy and has potential to become smaller after a few continuous years of coverage. Older you get, multiple conditions or ailments spring up. A smaller exclusion list could be a life saver then.

CRITICAL ILLNESS COVERAGE: The Critical Illnesses or treatments like Coronary Artery Surgery, Cancer, Renal Failure and Stroke are not only emotionally hard to handle but financially too, they can take a huge toll. These big ones are dangerous as normal plans are never enough to handle them. Especially, if you are looking for quality health care. Look for a critical illness top-up with your basic senior citizen health insurance. These top-ups come at small price compared to the basic plan, but that small price is truly small in the scheme of things.

Now, Quick Look at All That is Generally Covered

There are things that get covered by all the plans. Ready reckoner:

  • Hospitalization Cover: Expenses incurred as a patient after admission of more than 24 hrs. The expenses include room charges, doctor fees, nursing fees, cost of medicine and drugs, etc.
  • Day care expenses which arise from use of special equipments or procedures like chemotherapy, dialysis, etc.
  • Medical expenses prior and post of hospitalization, the number of days will vary across insurers.
  • Ambulance charges for transporting the insured subject to maximum limit.
  • Treatment at network hospitals only
  • All pre-existing diseases are covered from first year, except those for which treatment or advice was recommended by or received during the immediately preceding 12 months from the date of proposal.
  • Disease for which treatment or advice was recommended by or received during the immediately preceding 12 months from the date of proposal will be covered from second year onwards.

How Does Buying Insurance For Your Parents Benefit You

Insuring your parents medically is probably one of the most perfect things to give your parents. In their old age, they may require medical attention and the expenses can topple your (or their) pretty little apple cart. The following are the benefits of buying health insurance plans for parents:

  • The Cover, Obviously: Parents health insurance will cover the expenses of your parents’ hospitalization, pre- and post-hospitalization expenses, day care expenses, ambulance charges, domiciliary hospitalization etc.
  • Financial Independence: If there is ever an unfortunate need to hospitalize your parents, they don’t have to depend on you or anyone for expenses. By insuring them medically, you will be helping them lead a dignified life, for a fairly small yearly expense.
  • Cover Against Pre-Existing Conditions: No one likes to think about their parents’ sickness. You can be one of those people. You can also be one of those people who recognize the need of the hour and insure your parents against gradual decline in their health from conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart problems etc.
  • Safeguard Against Rising Healthcare Costs: As mentioned earlier, the healthcare costs are increasing due to inflation and other reasons. The money your parents have at their disposal now is not going to be enough for them in the next 5 years. Health insurance for your parents will ensure that they never have to be without medical attention when they need it, just because of financial distress.
  • Tax Benefits: If your parents are senior citizens, you get a tax benefit of Rs. 30,000, apart from your tax benefit of Rs. 25,000. If you insure them, you can avail a tax benefit of total Rs. 55,000 in a year. So the policy practically pays for itself.

How to Buy Health Insurance Plans for Parents

Now that it is clear as to why one should buy health insurance for one’s parents, it is time to discuss the next step. You can avail health insurance very easily. But do not, we repeat, do not buy health insurance without comparing. Never buy health insurance based on whether the plan is cheap. Remember that a cheap health insurance policy is worse than no policy.

So all in all, here’s a list of steps for buying the perfect plan:

  • Step 1: Find a homely, sincere web aggregator who can provide you unbiased quotes from various companies and honest expert advice when you need it.

  • Step 2: Fill in your parent’s and other particulars before you start your search. #Protip: Always declare any pre-existing conditions. If found out later, your insurer may not only reject your claim, you also stand the risk of your policy getting cancelled.

  • Step 3: Compare the top three quotes for the 7 points mentioned below:

    • Cover: Cover must be evaluated with respect to the points covered against the premium you pay. Is the policy economically optimized? Check which company gives the most cover against the premium they charge.
    • Co-Payment: Co-pay is an option (and sometimes mandatory) to pay a certain percentage or a certain fixed amount of the claim by the insured. This makes the premium way cheaper and affordable. However, choose a co-pay option which is a good balance between the amount you pay and the discount you get on your premium, as you don’t want to pay most of your claim amount and neither do you want a very high premium. For senior citizens and people above a certain age, this co-pay is a high amount or a higher percentage and it is mandatory. Check for a company that gives you the lowest possible co-pay. If you’re confused, you can always opt for an expert opinion.
    • Maximum age at renew-ability: As discussed earlier, many companies do not allow renewal after a certain age (most commonly 90 years). While choosing a policy you can go for one that offers a lifelong renewal.
    • Coverage of specific diseases: Post 60 years of age, the odds of suffering from conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart problems etc are higher, unfortunately. Health complications can arise out of those. When you buy a policy, make sure that most (ideally all) of the diseases on your priority list are covered.
    • Waiting period: Go for the health insurance policy that has the minimum waiting period. This way your conditions are covered sooner.
    • Medical check-ups: Many companies insist on medical checkups while many just don’t. Medical check-ups are carried out to figure out the pre-existing conditions. If there are more pre-existing conditions that the threshold, your insurer can deny you a policy. Go for a company that does not insist on medical check-ups.
    • NCB: Check for the no claim bonus discount, which is a “bonus” or discount for every claim-free year. Many companies do not offer NCB. You might want to go for one, as that may help you cut down your premium.
  • Step 4: Buy the best health insurance policy that suits you perfectly. Mind you, there will rarely be that one perfect policy. You may have to prioritize your needs and let go of things that hold the least importance. There will be a medical check-up in this timeline, if your company insists on one.

  • Step 5: Once you buy the policy, dedicate a good amount of time reading the policy wording. You have a look-up period, wherein you can cancel the policy without any loss. Make the most of this. Be alert, be aware.

FAQs on Parents Health Insurance

Why can't I simply include my parents in a family floater plan?

Technically, you can. However, if your parents suffer from any medical conditions, the premium of the entire plan can hike up. Besides after a certain age, the person requires more than what you would. The sum insured offered by family floater is not enough. If you notice, there isn't much difference in the yearly premium.

Why should I buy a separate health insurance plan for each of my parents?

One policy may not cover them both. Both your parents may have different sets of requirements and one sum insured may not be enough. Buying two different health insurance policies for each parent is the most efficient thing to do.

What is not covered in Parents Health Insurance?

Critical illnesses such as cancer, organ failure etc, cosmetic procedures, procedures that are not diagnostic or medical in nature, injuries caused by adventure sports and so on. Take a close look at the list of exclusions in your policy wordings.

What about tax benefits?

Under the Section 80D of the Income Tax Act 1961, you can avail tax benefits on health insurance policies. Senior citizens can avail tax benefit of total INR 30,000 for one year. If you are buying this for your parents, you stand to claim this benefit of Rs. 30,000, plus the tax benefit of INR 25,000 for your own health policy. So a total of 55,000 tax benefit can be availed. Thus your policies pretty much pay for themselves.

Can I get a single health insurance floater policy which can cover my parents or in laws too?

Yes. There is health insurance plan like Heartbeat family first which covers 14 relations including in-laws and parents.

Which is the best health insurance for parents?

A number of general insurance companies offer medical insurance for senior citizens in India. Below is the list of the most known plans available.

  • Gold from Max Bupa.
  • United India Health- Senior Citizen Policy.
  • SBI – Arogya Top Up Policy
  • Care and Care Freedom from Religare.
  • ICICI Lombard – Complete Health Insurance
  • Red Carpet Health Insurance from Star Health Insurance.
  • Optima Restore from Apollo Munich.
  • Star Health Insurance - Senior Citizens Red Carpet Health Insurance Policy

How to choose the best health insurance for parent?

We all know that health risks keep increasing as your age increases. Having a health insurance policy nowadays is a blessing in disguise. There are many insurance companies offering different senior citizen health insurance plans as per your requirements. The insurance market is filled with various plans where opting for a particular plan becomes challenging. To add to it, reading and understanding the fine lines in the policy documents can get more confusing since there are many insurance jargons like day limits, sub-limits, exclusions etc. that are hidden in the fine print of the insurance policy.

Because of this, we end up buying an inappropriate policy while considering only the cost of the insurance policy. Besides, this could even lead to rejection of claim settlements.

And the worst part is, it becomes even more risky for senior citizens since income stops after retirement in the midst of the consistently rising healthcare costs.

The following are the thoughts to be borne in mind when buying a senior citizen health insurance plan:

Waiting period: Every health insurance plan comes with a waiting period for pre-existing diseases and for specific illnesses. Usually, the initial waiting period is the first 30 days from the policy issuance date. This, however, does not apply in the case of accidental injuries or hospitalization.

Many insurers have a waiting period of 2 to 4 years, whereas for the waiting period for specific diseases is 2 years.

Age: Every health insurance policy has an age limit. Usually, senior citizen health insurance policies are continuous till they reach 90 years. However, off late, there are certain health insurance companies offering life-long renewal. These are beneficial for those policies having specific age limits. It is recommended to purchase a senior citizen health insurance policy at the earliest since premiums also tend to increase with increasing age.

Network Hospitals: There is a certain list of network hospitals where the policy holder can avail a cashless treatment or pay the medical bills and have it reimbursed by the insurance company post-discharge from the hospital. This benefit can only be enjoyed at the listed network hospitals tied up with the insurance company. You need to inform the insurance company in advance to avail this facility. It is recommended to check the list of network hospitals in your vicinity to ensure you don’t go through any hassles.

If you are above 60 years of age and you plan to buy a medical insurance for yourself, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Understand what sum insured or coverage amount you will need considering the inflation and future expenses.
  • For some specific list of ailments, check for the sub-limits applicable. Also, check for the co-payment clause.
  • To avail cashless treatment, ensure you check for the list of network hospital list.
  • Lastly, do check the entire policy wordings before you finally think of buying medical insurance. If you are unsure about the policy terms and conditions, you can always contact the insurer for clarification.
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