Given the speed at which COVID-19 cases are flooding the country and taking the impact of nationwide lockdown on the economy into consideration, countless people have been hit by the twofold blow of disease and lack of funds. Both of these have combined with the low penetration of health insurance in India. And as a result, it has created a gap that the insurance companies are hastening to plug with niche health products.
While the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has made it clear that all the existing health insurance plans will cover coronavirus, a number of insurance companies such as Star Health, Reliance General, ICICI Lombard and Religare Health have launched corona-specific health insurance plans.
As the number of coronavirus cases has hit over 12,000 after testing and treatment commenced in private hospitals, COVID-19 related insurance claims have begun trickling in. From ICICI Lombard and Star Health and Allied Insurance to Bajaj Allianz, many health insurance providers in India have confirmed receiving claims from across the country.
COVID-specific Health Cover Versus Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan
Since a number of insurance providers in India have joined the queue to offer corona-specific plans, there's also a bit of confusion building on the mind of the common people. So if you are confused whether to buy a comprehensive health insurance plan or a COVID-specific plan, we can help you with which one you should go for.
- COVID-specific health insurance plans will provide you with a lump sum amount in case a claim occurs
- No bills will be needed
- The coverage amount will be paid in full
- If you have a comprehensive health insurance plan, it will cover all medical expenses including pre & post hospitalization costs
- You should consider buying a COVID-specific health insurance plan if you do not already have a health cover
- Even if you choose to buy a health insurance policy, it will come with a typical 30 days waiting period during which you will not be able to file any claim with the company
- You can also take COVID-specific health insurance cover as a supplement to your existing health insurance plan
- The lump sum amount of COVID-specific health cover can compensate for the loss of income/job
- It is advisable to understand the coverage of the policy as well as its exclusions prior to buying a COVID-specific plan
The major difference between a COVID-specific health plan and a comprehensive plan is that the first one provides you with a fixed benefit, which is, a lump sum amount at reasonably priced premiums while the later is basically a traditional health insurance policy that offers coverage for your hospitalization costs as well as other related medical expenses.
It is important to note here that the lump sum amount offered under COVID-specific plans will not be sufficient to cover all your hospital expenses. For instance, COVID-19 Protection Insurance Cover by Reliance General Insurance Company Limited offers sum insured options ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh. Therefore, corona-specific health insurance plan could be the quick and best solution if you cannot afford a comprehensive plan.
In a nutshell, a corona-specific health plan has been designed to provide coverage to COVID-19 positive person only. Therefore, it is always advisable to go for a comprehensive health insurance policy that will cover you against a wide range of diseases or illnesses including corona. And if you choose to buy a comprehensive health insurance plan, the Sum Insured of the same will be adequate to help you in the hour of need.
With that being said, if you do not have a health insurance plan, purchasing a comprehensive health policy makes more sense given that you do not have a dearth of funds to buy one. However, one thing you will need to keep in mind that even if you choose to buy a health insurance policy, it will have a typical 30 days waiting period during which you will not be permitted to file any claim with your insurer.
One, therefore, is required to assess the negative and the positive sides of the fixed benefits of health insurance plans since these are very different from the regular indemnity health insurance policies. Make sure that you have read all the inclusions as well as exclusions carefully prior to buying a comprehensive or a corona-specific health insurance plan.
What Are the Benefits of Corona-specific Health Plans Then?
COVID-specific health plans could be a very good supplement to your existing health insurance plan. And in case you are already covered under a health insurance plan, you may consider going for a disease-specific policy. In this way, while your traditional health policy will cover hospital expenses, the fixed benefit under a corona-specific health insurance plan can effectively take care of your loss of income or loss of job.
In case you are hospitalized due to coronavirus, there would be no one to bear the loss of pay. With COVID-specific health plan you can make use of the lump sum amount to compensate for your loss of income. And if you are covered under your existing health insurance plan, you will not have to use lump sum payment for treatment.
If you do not have a comprehensive health insurance plan, we advise you to buy one immediately. Think like this, today we are dealing with coronavirus. Tomorrow, who knows, there could be something more severe and hazardous than the coronavirus itself.
And if you opt for an adequate health insurance cover, you will be covered come what may. You should note in this aspect that adequacy is important. So, go for a health cover with a higher Sum Insured. It is advisable to go for at least Rs 10 lakh cover per person. However, a lot of improvement has been made in this space. Nowadays you can opt for health insurance plans with even Rs 1 crore Sum Insured for as low as Rs 1000/- only per month.
Most importantly, note that all existing health insurance policies do not cover coronavirus. In order to find out whether your particular policy protects you against COVID-19, you must reach out to your insurance provider. And if you consider buying a comprehensive health plan, do make sure that the plan is offering cover against pandemic since not all the plans available offer coverage for the same.
Meanwhile, Here Are a Number of Things to Keep in Mind
Under a comprehensive health cover, if you are being treated for coronavirus, like any other disease, at the hospital, your pre and post hospitalization costs will be covered. Even though policy features may vary depending upon one insurer to another, pre and post hospitalization expenses, for instance, visit a neighborhood hospital will be reimbursed in general.
Alongside, the duration of pre and post hospitalization expenses, say 30 or 60 days, could vary across different insurance providers in India. Above all, You will be covered for COVID-19 tests and some policies may offer you coverage for medical expenses even if you are quarantined at home.
There are some exclusions as well that you must keep in mind. For instance, in order to file a claim under a regular health insurance plan, you must be hospitalized for over 24 hours. Here you need to note that most health insurance policies offer cover for only a single private room. In this case, if you go for a deluxe room, your insurer may charge you extra. Therefore, it is advisable to take a room accordingly.
If you are going to purchase a policy now, be it a corona-specific or a comprehensive health plan, be aware of the fact that there could be a waiting period during which no diseases will be covered. Also, take into account that some policies may not provide any cover to people with international travel history.
In terms of a general medical insurance policy, there is a waiting period of 30 days. Now, this waiting period may cause unnecessary problems for the insured. On the other hand, the insurance company may investigate to find out the original date of illness.
Some health insurance policies could come with a provision for exclusion of pre-existing diseases. To all intents and purposes, the insurance provider will ensure themselves that the COVID-19 virus has not originated ahead of the inception of the policy.
Overall, you should buy a mediclaim policy that matches with your requirement and make sure that you understand the coverage of the policy as well as its exclusions. On the other hand, it is equally vital to thoroughly read the terms and conditions of the policy and opt for the health insurance plan that provides you with a wider cover with minimal exclusions and fits your pocket. You should make an informed decision and ensure that you opt for adequate coverage.
In the midst of this worldwide health emergency, staying safe and embracing preventive measures with utmost caution can have no other better substitute. However, building an extra protective layer around yourself as well as your family members is undoubtedly a pro move, especially considering it from the financial aspect.
Whether you opt for a regular health insurance policy or a corona-specific plan that's totally up to you and the available funds at your hands right now. But what we want to implore you in this crisis moment is that you stay at home with your family and protect yourself as well as your loved ones with the best mediclaim policy of your preference without making any further delay in buying.