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News & Views


Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

Secure your health and wealth through medical insurance

   [Source : The Economic Times]

For more than 40 years, Praveen Shroff has been buying health insurance. Eighty- one-year-old Shroff, who first purchased health insurance when he was 40, is a living example of the benefits of buying insurance at an early age.

Shroff was working with an electricity firm, when he first bought a health insurance policy. For a premium of Rs 1,500, it offered a cover of Rs 1.5 lakh to Shroff and his wife.

"The insurance company's agent had come to our workplace to explain the policy's benefits. I decided it was a must that I purchase the policy without delay," he recalls.

Over the years, Shroff has changed insurers, but has never gone without insurance and the policy has held him in good stead.

Insurance has helped Shroff pay close to Rs 4 lakh in medical expenses. Over the years , Shroff has paid an estimated sum of Rs 5.2 lakh as premium, this is more than what he has claimed, but that is because his claim amounts have been small. Had he incurred higher expenses, those too would have been covered by his policy.

In the past 40 years , Shroff has made six claims, five for himself and one for his wife. Often, he has had to pay part of the medical bills from his pocket, but he is still a happy man. "Without insurance, paying for the medical emergencies would have been very stressful," says Shroff. His last claim of about Rs 33,000, earlier this year, was for treatment of anaemia. The maximum sum that he has claimed was for his 76-year-old wife's knee surgery in 2009 that cost a total of Rs 4.5 lakh. "The procedure cost extra because of expensive hospital room rent. It was more than what the policy allowed," says Shroff.

Today, he pays a premium of Rs 35,000 for a policy that covers him and his wife for Rs 6 lakh. That appears a sizeable sum, but Shroff is rightly convinced that it is necessary. "Owning a health insurance plan is imperative because health care costs have been soaring, especially in the metros. It was due to this reason that I have chosen to stay insured," he says.

The octogenarian has been able to avail of the benefits of health insurance because he opted for it at an early age and has kept renewing it. Otherwise, buying a policy for those above 60 years of age can be quite a daunting task. Even though the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India ( IRDAI) allows people up to the age of 65 to buy health cover, it can be quite a hassle and comes at a much higher cost. A 63-year-old, without any pre-existing disease, will have to pay anywhere between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 annually for a cover of Rs 3 lakh, and this comes with a waiting period of 3-4 years—claims made during the waiting period are not entertained by the insurer.

If the person has a heart-related pre-existing disease, he can be charged an annual premium of Rs 25,000-35,000 for the same cover with a waiting period of four years.

Shroff, who has made several heart disease-related claims, the latest being for a sum of Rs 53,000 for an angiography in 2014, when he was 75, would have been at sea had it not been for his existing health cover. Besides, new policies for senior citizens often come with a co-payment clause that requires part of the medical expense to be borne by the policyholder. Co-payment clause could be on pre-existing disease or the claim amount.

So, it is best to buy health insurance at an early age. Just like for Shroff, it will help you secure your health and your wealth.

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