Every year, nearly 65% of the Indian population head to a doctor for a routine medical check-up. Why? Because prevention is better than cure. By regularly visiting a medical practitioner, individuals have a better chance of early detection of any potential health hazard. While it is sensible to go for a regular medical screening, but does that mean we can forget about the need of investing in a health insurance that will ensure and secure the future of our loved ones?
In India, despite the constant rise of healthcare issues pertaining to death, disease and disability (3Ds); surprisingly only 27% of the populous has an adequate health insurance cover. As per a recent WHO report, an average of 89% Indians pay their healthcare expenditures from their savings, in comparison to a global average of 18%. As a result of low-investment in healthcare and high out-of-the-pocket expenditure, more than 60 million Indians are pushed further into the poverty trap and are never able to escape.
While it is necessary to focus on healthier eating, exercising and regular medical check-ups, equal attention is required when it comes to buying an adequate insurance coverage.
But if insurance is so important, what stops us from getting ourselves enrolled?
“It won’t happen to us”
Did you know? Cancer has become one of the leading cause of death in India with nearly 2 million cases at any given point of time, with 7 lakh new cases added each year resulting in approximately 3 lakh deaths.
Visit any Cancer Hospital in India there a number of patients from small children to elderly who are dealing with the trauma of this dreadful disease. A number of them result in deaths due to high expenditure involved in cancer treatment that the individual or the affected family is unable to bear.
Forget the total cost of treatment, even the cost of chemotherapy sessions and hormonal drug therapy alone can cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 4 lakh depending on the type of cancer and the duration of the treatment. And due to the exorbitant treatment cost, cancer treatment continues to remain out of the reach of the millions of people.
Thus, it is safe to say that the only way to fully prepare for life’s uncertainties, due to health, is to have a potent health insurance cover that provides financial support for timley screening and to avail the best possibile medical treatment. Because it is not a matter of – ‘if something is going to happen’ – it’s when and how we can protect ourselves.
Leading Causes of Death in India
The above chart shows that cardiovascular diseases in India contribute to nearly 24.8 percent of deaths of people aged between 25 and 69 years. And nearly 28 percent of people continue to die from vector-borne diseases like Malaria.
Not only the diseases, sadly, data records one death every minute in India due to accidents and for every death every 8th patient undergoes hospitalization for accidental injuries.
In a lot of cases, the death of the primary breadwinner leaves the entire family debt ridden. And this is where both term insurance and health insurance can do the needful. One cannot avoid such circumstances, but necessary steps can be taken to ensure the best possible treatment and financial security.
Over the past two decades, the health sector in India has made enormous strides. While the average life expectancy in India has crossed 67 years. Many diseases like Polio, Tetanus, Guinea worm disease, have been eradicated.
Despite this progress, both Communicable and Non-communicable diseases would continue to remain a challenge to public health.
Besides endemic diseases such as Tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and neglected tropical diseases, vector-borne diseases like dengue, and the communicable disease outbreaks also would require a high level of promptness in terms of early detection and treatment.
While 60% of patients in India succumb to Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Four major diseases including Cancer, Cardiovascular Diseases, Chronic pulmonary diseases, and Diabetes are a reason for nearly 80% of all deaths.
And all of them share five common risk factors namely overdose of alcohol, tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, and some genetic factors.
Not to forget the unacceptably high infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality ratio in our country.
Not just death but a fatal accident can change one’s life forever.
As per the NSO Survey for July-Dec 2018, nearly 2.2% Indians suffer from some kind disability. The prevalence of disability in men was found to be 2.4% and 1.9% in females.
Sometimes the consequences of an accident can be recurring and can cause serious damage to the one’s social and financial position. And permanent disabilities can lead to loss of income and requires special treatment and financial security for the loved ones.
The harsh reality is that huge hospital bills can drain out anybody’s savings then how is one going to achieve that?
This is where Insurance again comes into the picture!
Taking into consideration the data and the facts, India needs a concerted and robust multi-stakeholder approach to tackle the 3Ds and create a healthy nation. With such alarming figures, the need for life/term insurance and health insurance has grown manifold.
It is evident that an illness or disability can cost far more in monetary terms than just the value of the medical insurance premium or hospital bills. A disruption in one’s income due to a terminal illness or prolonged injury can wreak havoc with lives of the dependants and one’s own lifestyle.
When it comes to offering financial protection, the Insurance Industry is sure to be there with a product to cover the risk. And the 3Ds are no exception.
There are several different types of health insurance and term insurance products that are designed to help one maintain their financial security, and that of their family/dependant members. One can buy them as a stand-alone policy, or with add-on benefits.
For example, there are health plans for individuals, families, women, senior citizens and even groups. With a basic health plan, it is suggested to get critical illness rider that would cover expense incurred on life-threatening diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, heart-ailments, etc.
Enrolling into an adequate health insurance policy not only saves one from getting stuck with large medical bills, it also gives access to the care one needs to manage or improve health.
The insured person is more likely to get the best possible treatment and live longer and healthier life, as the medical bills are taken care of which otherwise can drain down one’s savings.
Then there is ‘Term Insurance’ and ‘Life Insurance’ that ensures a secured future to the dependent family members in case of a fatal accident, death, and permanent disabilities.
It offers the protection a family needs if the breadwinner is not there to support anymore.
Moreover, with online purchase the comparison of insurance products have been made much simpler as one can choose the benefits, provide all the details of the insured members, pay the premium and get the policy in their inbox.
Therefore, it makes sense to say that Insurance is not just an add-on to one’s financial portfolio, it has become also inevitable to live a secured life and protect India from the 3Ds.