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Everyone around us talks about health insurance. However, not many know that choosing the right health insurance plan can go a long way in looking after their medical needs or taking care of the hospitalization expenses. Depending on their needs, policyholders can either opt for cashless benefits or get the treatment expenses reimbursed. While most people consider buying health insurance only for tax benefits, it is important to realize how the health insurance coverage in lieu of nominal premiums ensures that policyholders do not have to consume their savings for paying hospital bills.
As an increasing number of people are now including health insurance as an essential financial tool, more insurance companies are now selling health insurance policies modified and suited to their customers’ needs.
Table of Contents
As the name suggests, Health Insurance is a kind of cover that secures you against the rising costs of hospitalization and medical treatment. It is, in fact, an agreement between an insurance company and the policyholder in which the former promises to compensate for medical expenses in the event of the latter falling ill or seeking treatment for injuries suffered in an accident.
Advances in science and technology continue to promise better treatment options though they do not have a diminishing impact on medical and surgical expenses. Having a health insurance plan(s) in place ensures that you enjoy the benefits of cashless treatment or reimbursement of medical expenses, if and when you fall ill. Based on the kind of health insurance coverage you have opted for, your insurance company may consider the idea to make payment to your healthcare provider directly or recompense you for the amount spent on medical treatment incurred.
In 2020, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) came out with a guideline saying that health insurance claims will not be contestable after eight years of premium payment, except for proven fraud and permanent exclusions specified in the policy document.
In addition, health insurance in India comes with its own set of tax benefits. Under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act 1961, the amount of premium you pay towards availing health insurance for yourself, spouse, parents and dependent children qualifies for tax deduction up to Rs. 25,000. Also, if any family member covered under the health insurance policy is a senior citizen, the amount of deduction goes up to Rs. 50,000.
Before you proceed to buy health insurance, it is important to know some of the best insurance companies in India known for their affordable health insurance plans, multiple benefits, incurred claim ratios declared each year and, last but not the least, their financial standing in the Indian insurance market. Listed below are some of the foremost insurance companies reputed for their transparent dealings, premium charges and myriad benefits overlooked by their competitors. These include:-
One of the foremost names in providing health insurance services, Bharti AXA General Insurance Company Limited is the result of a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and AXA. While Bharti Enterprises enjoys the reputation of a trusted business group, AXA is known for its myriad of services including financial protection and wealth management. Started in August 2008, Bharti AXA is the only general insurance company that had received the dual certification of ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 27001:2005 during the same year. Currently, the company provides the following health insurance products to its customers –
One of the foremost among the health insurance companies in India, this health insurance company was formed as two of the biggest business organizations came together to provide some of the best health insurance facilities to individuals seeking a cover against the rising medical expenses.
HDFC Limited, a renowned housing finance institution, and ERGO International AG, the primary insurance arm of Munich Re Group, has more than 100 branches throughout the country, thus enabling customers to get necessary information regarding insurance purchase or claim settlement. Awarded the “iAAA” rating by the Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency (ICRA), this insurance company sells two types of health insurance policies:-
This health insurance company was formed as a result of collaboration among Religare Enterprise Limited, Corporation Bank and Union Bank of India. Customers buying this policy can avail the benefits of getting treated at any of its 4,100 network hospitals. Care Health Insurance company offers insurance plans including:-
A standalone company by Aditya Birla as opposed to its peers and competitors stemming from collaborations and amalgamations, the company was established with the support of MMI Holdings Ltd, a South Africa-based organization. Keeping in mind the diversity of the Indian population and their equally diverse and unique needs, the following kinds of health insurance plans are offered by this insurance company. These include:-
Manipal Cigna Health Insurance Company, formerly known as Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company, provides top-notch health insurance plans to its customers. Let us understand more about the company and its health insurance products
This is India’s first standalone health insurance company that focused on overseas medical plans in addition to health insurance plans and personal accident policies. Founded by Star Health and Allied Insurance Co Ltd in 2006, customers can avail health insurance benefits by getting treated in any of its 8,400 network hospitals across the country. With more than 300 branches across the country, policyholders find it easy to get in touch with the company’s officials for easy claim settlement, thus explaining its inordinately high claim settlement ratio (CSR). Currently, this health insurance company is selling the following plans :-
Policyholders planning to buy health insurance plans from this company can modify the conditions of the plans, policy term and sum assured according to their needs and budgetary limits. With an asset base of over INR 60,000 crores, this New India Assurance health insurance company currently sells the following plans :-
You do not realize the importance of buying a health insurance policy early in life. In fact, many Indian households continue to rely on their income and savings to fund their hospitalization expenses, thus reflecting on the true state of health insurance in India. According to numbers shared by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) in 2016, nearly 86 percent of the population belonging to rural areas and 82 percent of the urban population continue to pay for their treatment themselves.
Financial security stems from prolonged savings. However, the same may be stalled as recurring medical expenses eat into our savings, thus creating a dent in it. Buying a health insurance policy implies that your insurance company is liable to bear the costs of treatment that otherwise would have been spent from your savings. One realizes the significance of buying health insurance coverage, be it individual medical insurance or group health insurance options, during emergency medical situations. Moreover, you can claim a tax deduction on the premium that you pay towards health insurance under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act 1961.
Regular health checkups
Not many people in India are aware of the need to undergo regular and recurring health checkups. This is because these involve expenses that most people like to avoid. Serious health problems are on the rise with an increasing number of the country’s population reeling under critical illnesses owing to changing lifestyle habits coupled with shifts in climatic patterns and a rise in pollution levels. Having health insurance, especially, family medical insurance, gives you the benefits of health checkups that many insurance companies allow free of cost. These checkups not only keep you informed about disorders that you are prone to but also keep you protected against possible medical conditions that may deteriorate if not treated on time.
Offset rising medical costs
The rising healthcare costs concerns many, especially in countries like India, where income levels have not risen in the same proportion as medical expenses in the past few years. Inflation has had an augmenting effect on the costs of medical treatment, thus prompting the need to buy healthcare insurance. Many health insurance companies have come up with affordable health insurance policies that cover against increasing medical costs and ensure financial security in the long run. Also, one enjoys the benefit of buying a customized health insurance policy in sync with specific healthcare needs, which means protection guaranteed at lower costs.
Health is a matter of concern in India, especially, as the changing landscape and rising pollution levels among a myriad of other factors have resulted in growing pervasiveness of critical disorders. Expenses on hospitalization and medical treatment are higher than ever before, thus prompting people to buy health insurance plans in a bid to secure cover for themselves and their loved ones.
You may consider buying either a basic health insurance plan for yourself or a comprehensive health insurance cover to cover all your medical needs in addition to securing your family members against possible health problems. Buying a comprehensive health insurance plan ensures that policyholders can better manage their expenses in the event of an unforeseen medical emergency while also opting for preventive healthcare options. There are multiple benefits of buying health insurance policies. Some of them include:-
Most people buy health insurance to stay away from the stress of paying off bills incurred on hospitalization and medical treatment. However, opting for a health insurance plan and deciding to pay for one involves greater benefits than merely saving on hospitalization expenses in the long run. Some common benefits that health insurance policyholders enjoy include:-
Financial Support in Place
Paying nominal premiums regularly is definitely a much easier option than having to pay hospital bills in a lump sum. This explains why people with a health insurance policy in place are more at peace post-discharge from the hospital as the onus of meeting the expenses lies with the insurance company.
Cashless Facility Benefit
With insurance companies tying up with thousands of hospitals across the country, policyholders do not find it difficult to get treated at the hospital of their own choice within the network of the insurance company. As opposed to paying bills on the spot or going through the hassle of collecting the bills and getting them reimbursed, policyholders are now able to avail the cashless facility, thus relieving them from the pain of rising medical expenses.
Secure Financial Future
Sudden expenses can mar your goal of a financially secure future. Having health coverage lessens the possibility of people using their savings to pay off their medical bills.
Holistic Approach to Treatment
Some people are apprehensive of taking necessary steps for treatment. This may include getting tests done or consulting with a specialist or getting operated in a hospital using advanced treatment methods and having all essential amenities. Since a health insurance plan covers both pre- and post-hospitalization expenses, complete treatment is possible for the policyholders sans the fear of having to spend extra money.
The number of insurance companies selling health insurance plans in India is gradually rising. There is an increasing competition among the insurers to attract more customers by promising the best possible benefits at nominal premium charges. This explains companies selling health insurance plans for individuals and family floater insurance policies in India. Insurance companies promising health coverage in lieu of premiums promise a sum assured amount for both individuals and family members as per the terms and conditions of the insurance proposal agreement.
What if we were promised an increased sum assured by paying only the same premium amount? Most health insurance plans today come with an inbuilt clause allowing policyholders the added benefit of Cumulative Bonus pursuant to each claim-free year. According to this, the sum assured is increased by a certain percentage during the time of renewal. However, the amount of Cumulative Bonus must not exceed 50 percent of the total Sum Assured amount.
Buying health insurance is no more just a matter of choice, but an essential financial tool to offset the effect of rising medical expenses and increasing costs of hospitalization. However, not all can buy health insurance plans as the guidelines shared by different insurance companies in India require fulfilment of certain essential conditions. These include:-
The policyholder needs to be a minimum of 18 years of age to apply for health insurance irrespective of any insurance company. Most insurance companies, however, warrant against covering people who have crossed 65 years of age. However, increasing competition has now resulted in many insurance companies allowing their customers to be covered until they reach 70 years of age.
Entry Age for Children
Family floater health insurance policies are bought by policyholders to keep their loved ones covered. This includes providing the necessary cover to their children aged between 90 days and 18 years.
Buying health insurance from an insurance company is futile if the latter does not offer scope for renewing the health insurance plan each year. However, the same is subject to certain guidelines issued by the IRDAI and your insurance company.
Why buy health insurance online? This is a common question by customers who realize the value of buying products online but are clueless about the benefits of availing insurance services through the web. Indians are currently riding the wave of shopping online as digital payments have made online transactions easy, transparent and convenient.
Buying Health Insurance Plans Online
The need to buy health insurance has undergone a change similar to the way people now choose and pay for it. There are no advisors or middlemen who decide and choose a health insurance policy on your behalf. The web has now made it easy for prospective policyholders to view online health insurance plans shared by insurers on their sites. Insurance web aggregators also offer multiple health insurance products on their sites, thus making it easy for customers to compare their attributes, features and benefits before opting to pay for any of them.
Online health insurance quotes not only ensure that customers are able to buy their choice of health insurance plans but also do away any scope of mis-selling or other snags associated with a traditional insurance purchase. In addition to convenience, online health insurance is cheap. This is because there are no agents’ commissions payable in online insurance purchase as opposed to the offline selling/buying mode.
The benefits of buying online health insurance plans far surpass traditional methods. Some of them include:-
Making an Informed Choice
Browsing through the list of health insurance plans lends a brief idea of the insurance policies being currently sold in the market. In addition, customers also learn about the benefits promised in each plan coupled with the terms and conditions of all the health insurance companies in India. Premium calculators shared online help find and buy the right healthcare insurance in sync with our needs and budgetary requirements. Besides, other factors including claim settlement records, solvency margins, quality of customer care service and reputation of the company can also be looked into. Buying insurance online surely helps!
Low Premium Charges
It does not make sense to pay more for some health care plans when another plan with similar benefits is already available in the market. As an increasing number of companies are getting into the insurance business, it is not difficult to look for affordable health insurance plans. Buying an online health insurance policy ensures that one has to pay lower premium charges, thus, rendering it inexpensive. This is because the web allows customers to buy insurance directly from the insurers, thus, relieving them of the burden of commissions paid to distributors in addition to overhead costs and operational expenses.
Also, the insurance premium needs to be paid regularly either monthly or annually. Health insurance plans with lower premium charges mean that the customers continue to avail the benefits of buying cheap health insurance plans throughout the policy period.
With a multitude of health insurance products being sold by multiple insurance companies, customers often inquire about how to buy health insurance online. Just like you compare products across various sites before buying the one that fits your needs and budget, you may purchase health insurance similarly. Easy to compare and contrast, the web has made buying health insurance so simple.
Online insurance purchase is synonymous with comparatively easy documentation procedures and lesser paperwork. This applies when you buy health insurance online too. Every step of the insurance buying process is managed digitally, which means that the hassle of submitting xerox copies of your documents gets replaced with emailing the insurer the electronic version (scanned copies of the documents). Just choose the medical insurance policy you wish to buy, log on to the site, upload your Know Your Customer (KYC) documents and pay using your card or mobile wallet.
Those who are not internet-savvy can call on the helpline numbers of the respective customer care departments who then guide customers through the insurance buying process. Insurance companies usually have a chat facility (also called chatbots) on their websites where the customers may inquire about the company’s products or seek clarification regarding its services. Calling on the toll-free numbers on the website ensures that you are connected to a representative who would lend adequate support regarding the product or service or arrange a face-to-face meeting with the company executive for better understanding.
No Mis-Selling or Fooling of Customers
Insurance in India is a misunderstood product, thanks to the agents who deceived their customers into buying those policies that fetched them more commission than others. Most agents regardless of what their customers required or need in the long run sold them policies that only proved to be futile and expensive. Online insurance has done away with the need for agents as customers browsed for product details from the website before making their choice. With no intermediaries or distributors to meddle in between, online insurance has put an end to mis-selling of any kind of insurance products.
Online Customer Reviews
Companies today are more concerned about how their products are reviewed by their customers. While positive reviews propel sales, negative customer reviews about any product or service may result in sales decline and a bad reputation. The same applies to insurance companies selling insurance policies too. Customers looking to buy online insurance can view and compare the reviews and experiences shared by existing policyholders, thus, helping them to make an informed choice about the credibility of affordable insurance plans being sold before buying them.
As opposed to agents who limit themselves only to selling insurance products, online insurance involves more than just the sale of insurance policies. In addition to availing various kinds of insurance policies, buying insurance from the web facilitates customers with added benefits including automated reminder systems concerning dates of renewal of the policy bought. This keeps policyholders informed about the next premium payment due till the last date of the policy period.
The growing presence of the internet across major cities, towns, and villages in India has led to an increasing number of the country’s population gradually gearing towards making online transactions. Health is a crucial factor has led to more people being inclined towards comparing online health insurance policies and buying them. Buying online health insurance has become easy, thanks to some of the top health insurance companies using advanced technological methods to garner the attention of customers and retain them in the long run.
Just like we exercise caution in buying necessary products or making important financial decisions, one must be similarly careful while buying health insurance plans. This is because health insurance policies serve to pay for rising medical costs, be it planned or emergency hospitalization of the policyholders and their loved ones.
Taking into consideration the increasing number of insurance web aggregators that promise their customers the best in terms of insurance products and customer services, it is easy to find out how Wishpolicy stands out from its peers and competitors.
Choice of the Right Plan
Buying health insurance is not enough until you have bought the right plan that is in sync with your needs and budget. Most people in India are not aware of the nuances of insurance, thus, resulting in buying health insurance policies with either very low coverage than what is necessitated or paying for excess cover. Our team at Wishpolicy ensures that you buy the right kind of health insurance after taking into account the policyholder’s age, medical history, number and age of dependents, the extent of dependence and budget concerning premium charges. This means that you not only get to choose between the various health insurance plans listed on our site but are able to buy it after making an informed decision with our expert help.
We prefer an easy and workable approach. This explains why our customers love to scroll through the details on our website and buy the health insurance plans using our online support system. Instead of giving you a list of all the policies at one place, we present details of each plan one by one, thus, enabling customers to make their choice based on premium charges and the corresponding health insurance coverage. This means that customers can look at how their coverage changes as their premium rates change or how premium amounts get affected while vacillating between different coverage amounts.
Gone are the days when people filled in insurance forms and submitted the physical documents of their details while applying for their choice of health insurance plan. Our online platform allows insurance buying and the claim settlement processes much easier. Built keeping in mind the drawbacks of offline insurance purchase, Wishpolicy aims to lend its viewers the same ease at which they engage in daily online shopping.
Any change in the premium rates or insurance purchase guidelines is reflected on our site promptly, thus, ensuring our viewers and customers the exact details of each policy along with their benefits.
Health Insurance Premium
The attitude towards securing necessary medical treatment has undergone a wide change in the past few years. Thanks to the increasing importance of health insurance as an essential financial planning tool, more people are now able to access necessary medical care to live healthy lives. This is because buying health insurance policies early in life helps defray the rising cost of medical care in the long run. But, the benefits of having a health insurance plan in place come at the cost of paying health insurance premiums. Premium is nothing but the amount customers have to pay each month to buy health insurance coverage.
Different insurance companies in India charge varying rates of health insurance premiums depending on the nature and extent of health insurance coverage promised. While choosing among the different options available, customers tend to focus on the premium charges involved as opposed to the medical cover sought. However, it is important that interested customers pay attention to not only the premium amounts that are to be paid but the benefits that they would gain after buying some particular health insurance plan.
Buying the right health insurance plan requires a considerable evaluation of the benefits offered by the plan and whether they are in sync with your needs and the medical requirements of your loved ones. While making your choice of health insurance, it is important to keep in mind certain basic parameters that making the buying process easier and much more informed. These include:-
Not all insurance companies in India charge the same amount of premium for providing similar kinds of services. While some companies charge low premiums, there are others who justify their high costs by providing additional services. However, while choosing health insurance, it is important to take into account the nature and extent of services one essentially needs. Opting for frivolous services and paying unnecessary higher premium amounts may result in excess expenditure compared with the nature and quality of benefits availed.
Though premium charges are not the ultimate deciding factor while opting for health insurance plans, they must not be ignored completely. Health insurance policies providing necessary benefits in lieu of nominal premium charges must be preferred.
There are times when the insurance company perceives some customers to be at a greater risk of suffering from grievous disorders or vulnerable to illnesses than others. Most customers do not check the terms and conditions regarding premium loading while buying health insurance. Moreover, many customers remain unaware of any such concept because of which they have to pay higher premium charges after making the claim on their health insurance plans. Terms and conditions associated with this concept may result in inconvenience on the part of the customers who end up paying more premium than intended while opting for the policy. Seek information about the health insurance policy before choosing to buy it.
Size of Floater (Family) Plan
Not all families have the same number of members. Every health insurance plan caters to different family size, and hence, it is important to check if the policy you are opting for fits the bill and meets your loved ones’ medical requirements in the long run. Depending on the number of members in your family and the extent of their dependence on you, prospective customers must choose between individual health coverage and family coverage health insurance.
Some insurance companies require their customers to co-pay the bills of hospitalization and medical treatment. In the event of hospitalization and treatment of any illness, policyholders or their loved ones are required to bear a part of the medical expenses from their pockets. As per the co-pay clause, policyholders would be required to pay 10-20 per cent of the total hospitalization expenses.
Many customers require their customers to co-pay the bill if they opt to seek treatment at a hospital external to their network. There are others who have an age-linked co-pay policy or determine the extent of the co-payment required to be paid based on the zone they belong to.
Companies with a higher co-pay ratio always charge a lower amount of premiums while those with a lower or zero co-pay clause charge increased premium amounts. Customers opting for low-premium health insurance plans must refrain from opting for unnecessary expensive procedures to ensure lower medical bills and, thus, a lower rate of co-payment on the bills.
No Claim Bonus (NCB)
Does the insurance company offer its policyholders the benefits of availing NCB? Not all policyholders make claims on their policies during the first or second year. Some insurance companies in order to encourage their customers to stress on healthy living and refrain from spending on unnecessary treatment processes award them by allowing the benefit of NCB. However, not all insurance companies do not allow the same NCB value. Greater the value of the NCB, better is the health insurance policy considered. Insurance companies may introduce NCB as reduced premium rates or increase in the basic insurance coverage.
Waiting Period Duration
As per the guidelines set forth by the IRDAI, policyholders have to go through a predetermined waiting period before they can seek a claim for treatment of any pre-existing illnesses. This is true of all health insurance plans irrespective of which insurance company one may choose. The minimum waiting period is 30 days and may go up depending upon the terms and conditions of each health insurance provider. Prefer to buy health insurance from a company with the least waiting period so that one does not have to wait before seeking treatment for any disorder that may be existing before buying the plan.
Incurred Claim Ratio (ICR)
The ICR is the ratio the net claims paid by the insurance company to the net premiums earned. A higher value of ICR implies increased chances of the insurance company’s likelihood to settle your claims in future.
ICR = Amount Settled As Claims/Amount Collected As Premium
Duration of Policy Cover
A longer policy period ensures maximum protection for prolonged periods. Prefer to buy health insurance plans that cover policyholders for a maximum period.
Cashless Hospital Network
This factor is important considering that customers buy health insurance policies to meet sudden hospitalization expenses and costs of medical treatment. While opting for your choice of health insurance plan, find out if the hospital or treatment facility near your place is included in the list of network hospitals of the insurance company. This saves your loved ones from the hassle of filling in necessary documents and reimbursing your medical expenses with their hard-earned money. Remember that your insurer or a third-party administrator (TPA) should have a tie-up with your choice of hospitals.
Critical Illness Riders
Some health insurance plans ensure scope for additional benefits including critical illness riders by paying a nominal additional amount. Find out which health insurance policies ensure the most benefits to the policyholders without charging too much for the same.
Plan renewability is important. The significance of having a health insurance plan in place is greater when one is old as growing age increases the vulnerability to many kinds of disorders. Most health insurance plans can be bought for a year, thus, prompting policyholders to renew the policy next year. However, some insurance companies allow the policies to be renewed only for a limited number of years. This leaves the policyholders without a proper health insurance plan to cover expenses of treatment, if and when necessary.
Health Insurance Portability
Prefer to opt for a company that offers health insurance portability. As opposed to earlier times when policyholders were forced to continue with the policy they had bought initially to avail the benefits of the waiting period clause, the option of health insurance portability has brought respite to many existing policyholders who wish to avail benefits of a new insurance company. Though health insurance portability does not involve any added expenses, many insurance companies charge a certain amount as fees when customers opt-out of their plans to buy another.
Rising medical expenses have mandated the need for a higher health insurance cover. However, opting for a comprehensive health insurance plan or opting for an increased insurance cover may result in greater expenses on premium payments. This is where opting for a top-up plan helps. Buying a top-up plan reduces the amount policyholders would be required to pay on deductibles, thus, making it more affordable than buying a standalone health insurance policy. Opt for insurance companies that allow their customers to buy health insurance top-up plans.
Is my health insurance policy valid throughout India?
This is a question that most customers ask the health insurance company to ensure hassle-free hospitalisation in times of emergencies. Though having health insurance means that you can get yourself treated at any place in India, it is important that you seek information regarding the same to avail seamless and timely treatment. Also, companies selling health insurance in India may have added conditions owing to geographical limitations. In addition, there are many health insurance policies that offer international coverage too.
Do policyholders get covered for their pre-existing disorders?
Firstly, it is important to inform about any illnesses that the policyholders may be afflicted with before buying health insurance. It is important to note that any and every company offering health insurance in India does not cover pre-existing illnesses for a certain period, also called the waiting period, at the beginning of the best health insurance plan. This means that the policyholders can seek a claim for treatment of the pre-existing illnesses post the completion of the waiting period. Ask your health insurer if your pre-existing illness is not covered temporarily or is completely excluded from the amount of health covered determined while buying the policy.
How to avail cashless treatment or the claim settlement process in case of hospitalization during emergencies?
Sudden hospitalization can take a turn for the worse, especially, if the families of policyholders are unaware of the claim settlement process. Before buying the health insurance plan, find out if the policy facilities cashless settlement of the claims made by their customers. Seek information about the documentation process and the customer care number with whom one has to contact during emergency hospitalization. Some of the best health insurance companies ensure that they have active customer care in place or a representative in place who would guide about the claim making the process.
Can policyholders make the claim if they get admitted in a non-network hospital during emergencies?
During sudden emergencies, it is possible that your loved ones may get you admitted to a nearby hospital that may not be included in the health insurer’s network. Knowing the claim settlement process in such a scenario is imperative. Policyholders admitted to a non-network hospital would be reimbursed the amount expended on treatment and payment of medical bills. The policyholders while opting for any health insurance policy must first find out about the reimbursement process, necessary documents to be submitted and the deadline for informing the best health insurance Company about the hospitalization and consequent treatment.
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