Health insurance for parents: What you need to know

A health insurance plan is a necessity for everyone, especially for senior citizens. This is because even if they have been blessed with good health all their lives, they are prone to many age-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac issues, bone issues, etc. So it is important to get your parents covered so that they are able to manage their medical expenses conveniently. Added to this, a health insurance plan also provides protection against rising medical costs.

Features of a senior citizen health insurance plan

The health insurance plans offered by each of the several health insurance companies differ. Here are a few of the common features offered by most companies:

  • In-patient hospitalisation: All hospitalisation-related expenses such as room charges, nursing charges, surgery charges, Operation Theatre charges, cost of consultation, oxygen charges, etc., are covered.
  • Pre-hospitalisation: Coverage for treatments conducted prior to admission to the hospital, usually up to 30 days, is offered.
  • Post-hospitalisation: Expenses incurred after discharge from the hospital are covered up to 60 days in most cases, provided the expenses are related to the health issue for which the person was admitted.
  • Day care procedures: Certain surgeries or treatments that need less than 24 hours of hospitalisation, such as a cataract surgery, are also covered.
  • Critical illnesses: Protection for expenses incurred on the treatment of specific critical illnesses is provided by a few health insurance companies.
  • Hospital Cash: Patients may incur additional expenses when they are hospitalised. Hence a few insurers provide the hospital cash benefit where a fixed amount is provided on a daily basis when the person is hospitalised.
  • Ambulance charges: Emergency ambulance charges payable for transporting the insured individual to the hospital are covered.

What to consider while buying a health insurance plan for parents

Since there are many senior citizen health insurance plans available in the market, it may be tough to choose just one plan. Given below are some of the important factors you should look into before narrowing down on one plan:

  • Age limit: Insurance companies, in most cases, specify the entry age bracket. Make sure your parents fall within the mentioned age bracket. Also, while most companies offer lifelong renewability, a few companies may restrict the renewability to a certain limit. So, do not forget to check the renewability feature.
  • Sum insured: The sum insured is the maximum amount up to which the coverage will be available. Decide the sum insured required and then check if the insurer has the sum insured option you prefer.
  • Pre-existing diseases: Unless you purchase an illness-specific plan such as a diabetes protection plan, pre-existing diseases will generally have a certain waiting period. The waiting period could range between 2 and 4 years. Read the fine print carefully to find out the exact waiting period.
  • Premium: A premium amount needs to be paid to the insurer on a regular basis to keep the policy in force. Pick a plan with affordable premium options.
  • Type of cover: You can buy separate policies for your mother and father or buy a single family floater and include them both. Choose the type based on their similarity or dissimilarity of health expenses.
  • Network hospitals: Insurance companies have tie-ups with several hospitals in the country. Take a look at the list to see if the nearest and the most important hospitals are included.
  • Noclaim bonus: If no claim is made in a year, either a discount on the premium or a raise in the sum insured is offered as a no claim bonus. Find out if the insurer offers the no claim bonus.
  • Co-payment: Insurers may have a co-payment clause wherein you have to pay a share of the hospital bill. Since this is a senior citizen plan, the chances of prevalence of the clause are high since insurers demand co-pay for individuals above 65 years. So do not miss this clause while going through the policy.

Make sure you keep the above-mentioned factors in mind and compare the different senior citizen plans available. Also, seek feedback from friends and family members who have purchased the same kind of plan. Learning their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the policy and insurance company will help you choose the best health insurance policy for your parents.

Things to be done at the time of purchase of a policy

Here is a short to-do list you should be aware of and make sure you finish at the time of purchase of the health insurance policy:

  • Medical examination: Insurance companies ask for medical screening reports, especially from senior citizens, to understand the health risks of the individuals. Find out the list of tests that need to be done and make sure your parents get tested at the specific diagnostic centres mentioned by the insurers.
  • Submit all necessary documents: Submit all documents that are deemed necessary so that you face no trouble at the time of claim settlement.
  • Disclose all pre-existing conditions: Insurers have the power to terminate the agreement if you’re found misrepresenting facts, so make sure you disclose all health issues suffered by your parents.
  • Be patient for the acceptance of the proposal: After all the formalities are done, wait until the insurer accepts the proposal and then pay the premium.

Carrying out all these simple tasks completely will ensure a smooth flow of the health insurance coverage. Otherwise, you may face roadblocks at the time of claim settlement.

Things to do after purchase of a health insurance plan for parents

Once the policy is purchased, the job doesn’t end altogether. Two things you should do on a regular basis throughout the policy period of the health cover are:

  • Review the policy: As life advances, our needs may change. Hence, go through your parents’ health insurance policy every once in a while to make sure everything is as per your requirement such as the sum insured and the coverage offered. If you think there needs to be a change or an addition, you can make such changes at the time of renewal of the policy.
  • Renew the policy: Insurance companies offer various premium payment terms such as annual, half-annual, and quarterly. As per the choice made by you at the time of purchase of the policy, pay the premium accordingly. Though insurance companies offer a 30-day grace period, do not leave the premium payment until the last moment. In case you do not pay the premium, the policy will lapse.

Conclusion

Since your parents have probably completed all their responsibilities and have retired from their jobs, they may not have too high an income. So in case of a medical emergency, they may have to shell out money from their pockets. A health insurance plan will give them financial freedom and let them avail their treatments in peace, without having to worry about footing the hospital bill. Further, paying premiums towards your parents’ health insurance policy will give you tax benefits under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

FAQs on senior citizen health insurance plans

  1. Is it a good idea to include my parents in my family floater?

The age of the oldest member in the family floater is taken into consideration while determining the premium amount payable. So, including your parents in your plan may not be the best idea as you will have to pay a high premium.

2. Can I buy a health insurance plan for my in-laws?

Yes, you can buy a policy for your in-laws as well. Certain insurance plans allow individuals to even include their in-laws in their insurance plans. But keep in mind the cost factor while you do so.

3. Can my parents be covered under a single policy?

Yes, if you buy a floater, your parents can be covered under a single policy.

4.What is the advantage of getting separate policies for my parents?

Your mother and father may suffer different health issues and hence may have different medical requirements. Buying a separate policy will give you the flexibility to decide the coverage based on the person’s needs.

5. What is not covered under a senior citizen health insurance policy?

Insurance companies list out a set of exclusions in the policy such as treatment for specific illnesses, aesthetic treatments, injuries caused by self harm, etc.

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