India is presently experiencing the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than three lakh new cases of coronavirus are being reported on a daily basis since the end of April 2021. Although the country is facing a lot of fatalities, most people do recover from COVID-19 with a little care and some medication. The isolation and quarantine for two weeks may be difficult for many, but most COVID-19 patients do not need to visit a hospital to get well. In case they do need to get hospitalized, the coronavirus health insurance policy takes care of their medical expenditure.
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Most health insurance plans cover medical expenses arising out of the treatment of COVID-19. Insurance companies have also introduced coronavirus-specific health plans - Corona Rakshak and Corona Kavach plans - to provide the COVID-19 patients with necessary financial assistance during these testing times. However, once the patient has recovered from COVID-19, health insurance may not be readily available.
COVID-19 warriors who may be looking to buy a health insurance policy soon after recovery may not be eligible to do so. Most health insurance providers in India have decided not to sell health plans to recently recovered COVID-19 patients for a certain time period. They are adopting stringent underwriting rules for applicants who have just recovered from COVID-19 by incorporating a cool-off period. While most insurers need the COVID-19 recovered patients to wait for at least six months after their recovery before their health insurance proposal form will be accepted, some insurers have a cool-off period of three months only.
The reason behind the cool-off period is the insurers’ unfamiliarity with the long-term effects of coronavirus on recovered patients. Coronavirus is known to have a long-term adverse impact on major organs of the patient, including lungs and heart. However, the extent of the impact on the patient’s body is still not known by the medical fraternity. Medical experts are still learning about the new implications of coronavirus on recovered patients in this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes it difficult for insurers to estimate the risk level of a COVID-19 recovered patient. As a result, a cool-off period has been made compulsory for COVID-19 warriors after which the insurers will accept proposal forms from such applicants.
However, not every insurer is in favour of a cool-off period. A couple of insurance providers are issuing health insurance policies to COVID-19 recovered patients with no cool-off period. They are willing to accept health insurance proposal forms from applicants who were diagnosed with COVID-19 immediately after their recovery. Such insurers claim that their team of underwriters comprise of highly qualified doctors and they have not kept any cool-off period for COVID-19 recovered patients after analysing the relevant data. Besides, they also believe that the insurance industry needs to be more inclusive to increase the health insurance penetration in the country.
Cool-off period or not, all COVID-19 recovered applicants need to honestly disclose their medical history in the proposal form. Hiding about getting diagnosed with COVID-19 or not providing details of pre-existing conditions may lead to rejection of the proposal form. Every applicant will need to provide documents proofs to support their medical history and recovery from COVID-19. Recently recovered COVID-19 patients will have to submit a COVID-19 negative report and hospital discharge summary (if admitted) as evidence to the insurer. If required, the insurer will contact the applicant for obtaining more details.
In some cases, COVID-19 recovered applicants may also be asked to undergo a few medical tests before the health insurance policy is issued. Usually, an applicant is asked to undergo pre-policy medical tests based on their age, pre-existing conditions, etc. But COVID-19 recovered applicants will have to undergo specific medical tests so that the insurer can estimate their health condition. Depending on the disclosed medical history and test reports, the insurer will decide to accept, reject or postpone a proposal form from a COVID-19 recovered patient.
However, not every COVID-19 recovered patient will be asked to undergo a medical test if they plan to buy a health insurance policy. This is because pre-policy medical tests for applicants diagnosed with COVID-19 is not mandatory.
In a Nutshell
The COVID-19 pandemic has created havoc in the entire world. The coronavirus not only weakens the patient’s body physically but also drains them mentally as they need to isolate themselves. Unfortunately, the trouble may continue for recently recovered COVID-19 patients who wish to purchase health insurance for themselves. Chances are that they will have to wait for at least three to six months to buy health insurance as most insurers are not keen on selling policies to recently recovered COVID-19 patients. Moreover, they may have to undergo a few medical tests before buying the policy. Since a few health insurance providers do not have a cool-off period for COVID-19 recovered patients, such people can consider buying health insurance from these insurers.
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