Health Insurance Cover
Are Senior Citizens Getting Value for Their Money?
BMany aged individuals are worried about the spiraling cost of healthcare and what havoc it can do to their financial security. With medical inflation growing at 15 per cent per year, the cost of procedures like angiography and gall bladder removal has increased by 50 per cent to 60 per cent between 2007 and 2012, a recent report released by KPMG and Assocham noted. In fact, out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure (86 per cent in 2011) dominates their spending. Around 38 per cent of the elderly respondents to the survey in India ranked health and financial insecurity among key fears. This article focuses on the various health insurance products available in the market with special relevance for senior citizens and thereby attempts to help them in making an informed decision. ased on the financial capacity/affordability of the insured, we have opted for a Rs 300,000 health insurance policy, as market indices indicate that an average man/woman above 60 years of age should be able to meet their medical treatment within this amount, if they do not suffer from any serious medical complication at the time of taking a health insurance policy.
The table depicting the difference in premium on health insurance for a 26-year-old and a 62-year-old will alert us to the wisdom of buying medical cover at a comparatively early age.
Senior Citizen Health Insurance
Health insurance for senior citizens is a necessity, especially when one is planning to retire or have already retired and will be dependent mainly on pension or interest income from savings. A sudden medical emergency can result in a financial crisis. To avoid this, it is prudent to take a comprehensive senior citizen mediclaim policy.
The need for health insurance cover is all the more necessary for those who enjoyed the health cover under the ‘group insurance scheme’ floated by insurance companies under a tie-up with their organization (both government-owned and private sector companies). Until their retirement the employees/officers are covered under this scheme, but the cover ceases abruptly after their superannuation. Then the employee gets the ‘senior citizen’ tag and with it comes the financial limitation to live off his pensionary benefits and the sudden ‘disappearance’ of his health cover, causing him anxiety.
We have also come across many instances of serving employees not bothering to take any sort of health cover during their service years, especially in the unorganized sector and under the self-employed category.
According to the new guidelines by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), every health insurance provider has to mandatorily offer health coverage to individuals up to 65 years of age. As it happens, most of the health insurance companies hesitate to offer cover to senior citizens. The new guidelines will not only help individuals get coverage at later stages of their life but will also allow them to shift insurers (portability) in case they are not satisfied with their current health insurance provider.
General insurance companies offer medical insurance for senior citizens in India and have niche products to cater to this segment. Here we have highlighted nine health insurance plans for senior citizens (with age coverage indicated in brackets): i. Care – Religare Health Insurance (entry at
any age ) ii. Optima Senior – Apollo Munich Health
Insurance (60 to any age )
iii. Heartbeat – Max Bupa Health Insurance
(entry at any age ) iv. Silver Health – Bajaj Allianz GIC (entry up to 70 years) Complete Health – ICICI Lombard GIC (entry at any any age ) vi. Senior Citizens Mediclaim – New India
Assurance (entry up to 65 years) vii. National Mediclaim – National Insurance
(entry up to 65 years) viii. Senior Citizen – United India Insurance
(entry from 61 to 80 years) ix. Senior Citizens Red Carpet – Star Health
Insurance (entry from 60 to 75 years) There are some new entrants in this sector but we have not taken up their products for analysis due to their negligible market share. Between them, all of these senior citizen mediclaim policies ensure that one is financially protected against illness during one’s golden years.