Plan health insurance for your parents for their healthy future and your financial future
By Deepak Yohannan
We grumble about inflation, but regular inflation is not a patch on medical inflation. Healthcare was always expensive, but prices are now through the roof. Go into hospital for a couple of days for a routine procedure, and you can expect to come out poorer by at least Rs 50,000–60,000, if not more.
People with aging parents who need frequent hospital care could easily go bankrupt in an absence of health insurance. Your parents may still be active and healthy, but health problems increase with age and result in higher healthcare costs.
I cannot possibly overemphasise the need for insuring your parents’ health. If you hope to protect your financial future, you need to do it today! Let me explain why.
Many health insurers have limits on entry age. This means that once your parents cross the age of 60, their coverage options reduce drastically. While policies like ‘Max Bupa’s Heartbeat Plan’ and ‘Apollo Munich’s Optima Senior Plan’ place no limits on entry age for seniors, not all insurers and insurance plans are alike.
If you start shopping for health insurance plans for your parents early, preferably before they hit the ‘senior citizen’ mark, you will have access to an array of policies with great features and even more comprehensive coverage.
While you are at it, keep an eye out for the renewal age. Most insurers cap this at 90 years, but some may have earlier caps. For instance, ‘Bajaj Alliance’s Silver Plan’ allows entry up to 70 years, but caps renewals at 75.
Most senior citizens have their baggage of pre-existing conditions – i.e. health conditions that they already suffer from at the time of buying the policy. Generally, health insurance plans for pre-existing conditions come with a waiting clause. The insured may have to wait for a year or two before coverage for pre-existing conditions comes into play.
Hence, it is best to buy a policy while your parents are healthy, so that they can wait through the 2 years without incident. Note that some other policies may not cover specific conditions at all. For instance, ‘National Insurance’s Varishtha Mediclaim for Senior Citizens’, which is one of the best senior citizen policies in India, does not cover pre-existing critical illnesses.
This is another reason why you must buy health insurance as soon as possible, or at least, before the next budget. As the rules now stand, individuals younger than 60 years are eligible for a tax deduction of up to Rs 15,000 on annual medical insurance premiums.
This means that if you have a family health insurance policy, you stand to save up to Rs. 15,000 on health insurance premiums. Individuals who insure their parents get additional tax benefits on premiums of up to Rs 15,000 on dependent, non-senior citizen parents or up to Rs 20,000 on dependent, senior citizen parents.
Thus, a person with a family and with dependent senior citizen parents could save up to Rs 35,000 per annum through health insurance.
However, the biggest reason to buy health insurance for your parents right away is because disease can strike at anytime. Being without health insurance in this era of medical inflation is too great a risk to take.
(The author is the CEO of MyInsuranceClub.com, an online insurance price & features comparison portal)