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Senior citizen health insurance Vs Regular health plans: Which is better for senior citizens?

Life after the age of 60 is considered as new innings with the least responsibilities and maximum time for self and family. It is that phase of life when you want to make the most of your life by indulging in your hobbies and doing things that you love the most. However, increasing age also means you will get more prone to various health-related ailments. While it may not be important that you would certainly have a fixed monthly income even post-retirement, it is crucial to manage your finances well to lead a peaceful and happy life.

If you are above the age of 60, you must opt for a comprehensive health insurance plan that will help you in financial planning and sail through all healthcare expenses with utmost ease. Today, health insurers have come up with impressive comprehensive health insurance plans for senior citizens that are curated to offer adequate financial security at affordable prices.

Health insurance – at any age – is not only important if you have regular high medical bills to pay but it is important to always have a financial safety net around. In India, in every 33 seconds, one person dies of heart-related ailments while pollution causes two death in every one minute. With such frightening numbers, it becomes pivotal to be covered under a comprehensive health insurance plan as an unfortunate incident could strike anyone, anytime. Moreover, as you age, you become prone to serious illnesses or ailments that come along with an exceptionally high treatment costs.

Often, healthcare expenses during the retirement age can eat into your entire retirement corpus and hence it is important to have a suitable health insurance policy in place that can provide adequate financial cover during the rainy days. With an adequate health insurance policy, you can easily live your life peaceful without any financial strain. Fortunately, these days, there are even health insurance plans available that allow you to go for routine medical check-ups – an efficient way to keep a track of your health and wellness.

Often, post the age of 60, while most people are sure that they must invest in a health insurance plan, they are unsure whether to invest in a regular comprehensive health insurance plan or buy a senior citizen specific health insurance cover. So was the case with Mr Harish Manchandani.
When Mr Harish was 37, he was quite organised with his financial portfolio as he bought various kinds of insurance, including a life plan and a health plan with adequate cover. While his term insurance coverage was up to 60 years, his health insurance covered him until the age of 50 years. Fast forward to today, as a 62-year-old retired grandfather, Mr Harish is worried seeing the constantly rising cases of COVID-19. He does not want to become an economical burden on anyone and is now planning to buy a health cover that covers him and his wife. However, he is confused if he should buy a senior-citizen specific health insurance plan or a regular health insurance plan.

If you yourself are above the age of 60 years and are planning to buy a health insurance plan or if you are planning to buy a plan for your aging parents, it is always advised to buy a regular comprehensive health insurance plan rather than a senior-citizen specific plan. Usually, senior citizen-specific health insurance plans are suggested to those who are suffering from pre-existing diseases or chronic illnesses. These plans are available at relatively lower prices than regular health insurance plans, though senior citizen-specific plans have their own limitations like mandatory co-payment.

On the other hand, regular health plans come loaded with a plethora of features and benefits for individuals. The foremost being no co-payment on hospitalisation bill. Usually, if you purchase a senior citizen-specific plan, you need to pay a mandatory co-pay/partial amount of the hospital bill, however, there is no such clause in regular health plans. Even if you already have a health insurance plan and if it has a co-payment clause, you can port your policy to another insurer that offers health covers without any co-payment.

Second, with several changes in the underwriting rules, the mandatory waiting period for chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma and hypertension in the regular health plans has been reduced significantly. Now, there are plans available in the market that have a waiting period as low as zero days to 30 days, depending upon policy to policy. Third, regular health plans are available for a sum insured as high as Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore while the senior-citizen specific plans are only available up to a limited sum insured of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.

If you are young and planning to buy a health insurance plan for your parents, it is best advised to cover them under a separate health insurance cover rather than your family floater plan. Doing so will help them avail myriad of features and will be economical on your pocket. Moreover, you can also save tax under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act by paying premiums of health insurance bought for yourself and your parents.

(By Amit Chhabra, Head-Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com)

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