Health insurance companies prefer a younger clientele as the risk associated with covering them is lesser than it is for the elderly. Older individuals are more susceptible to illness and thus insurers charge a higher premium in case of health insurance for senior citizens. Thus, it’s more prudent to purchase a health policy when young.
However, according to a survey, people in the 22-26 age bracket are the least insured, while 68% of individuals in the 55-60 years category have a health insurance. Even 72% of people in the 46-54 years age bracket are insured.
This shows that Indians usually purchase a health policy quite late in their lives, thus necessitating the availability of health insurance for senior citizens. While it may be relatively difficult to purchase a cover at an old age, it’s not impossible.
The most crucial thing is to search for policies that have an advanced entry age. There are some companies that offer health insurance to people in the 60-80 age bracket. When buying insurance at a later stage in life or buying health insurance for aged parents, it is always advisable to go for a plan which offers coverage for the longest duration. It’s better to renew a policy than to purchase a fresh one at an old age. In most cases, health cover cannot be extended after one turns 80.
Most insurers have a waiting period on pre-existing disease. If a person is buying a fresh policy, the waiting period has to be considered. The elderly are more likely to submit claims related to the pre-existing ailment. Thus, it makes little sense to purchase a senior citizen health insurance policy with a protracted waiting period. A high premium but a short waiting period is a better deal during old age. Also, health policies do not necessarily pay for all medical expenses. There are some insurers who do not cover pre and post hospitalization expenses, dental surgeries or hereditary conditions. One should ideally purchase a policy with minimum exceptions, even if that entails paying more premiums.
Medical expenses increase with age and the basic purpose of an insurance is to cover that. Therefore, an individual should assess his/her needs and purchase a policy accordingly. A high final coverage should take priority over low premium. Alternatively, a policyholder can opt for a top up or a super top up in addition to the existing medical policy. Since top up and super top up policies have a higher deductible, they are affordable as compared to base policies with a high coverage.
In the case of health insurance for senior citizen, there is usually a co-payment clause. This requires the insured to pay a part of his/her expenses. The co-payment clause is different for different insurance companies and a comparative analysis should be made.
Since 60 is the age of retirement in India, senior citizens usually do not have a regular source of income. They mostly depend on pension funds or their savings. Thus, it’s always a good idea to opt for a cashless policy in case of health insurance for old parents than one which offers reimbursement against claims. In a reimbursement policy, the claim is only processed after all the documents have been submitted. Till then, one has to bear the expenses from one’s savings and that can lead to financial instability.
In order to make a claim, the insurer has to undergo medical treatment from among the hospitals that are approved by the insurance provider. When purchasing a policy, it’s vital to consult the list of hospitals and check if there are any in the immediate vicinity. Otherwise, an elderly person may end up travelling across the town simply in order to avail insurance benefits.
Recently, the Finance Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, has raised the amount of tax deductions for senior citizens from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000. Thus, even if the premium turns out to be slightly more for senior citizen health insurance, one can also avail tax benefits.
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