We all wish to provide the best possible healthcare for our parents. Be it consulting with the best doctors or getting the best treatment from the best hospitals whenever the need arises. However, choosing the best health plan for our beloved parents is a daunting task in itself.
Entering the golden phase of life, i.e., retirement is a blessing for our parents. It is a phase when there is very little work and ample scope for enjoyment with their children, grand-children, friends or relatives. But even as they relax, there are chances for a host of health problems to arise. You might have already started noticing such health issues despite their best attempts to hide them from you.
To provide the best possible healthcare facilities to your parents, it is essential to ensure that there is no shortfall of funds when the time comes. The best and safest way to have quality health care for our parents is to have an adequate health insurance plan for them. But choosing a good health insurance plan from the plethora of options available in the market requires proper research.
Here are some steps to help you choose the right policy.
Have parents’ health history handy
The primary reason for undertaking this step is to be sure that when a claim arises, it would be honoured by the insurance company. Under a senior citizen health insurance plan, 99.99 per cent of the problems related to buying and claims arise due to the medical history of parents. Medical History means any case of an ongoing health issue; it includes symptoms and diseases that are not formally diagnosed.
An ideal way of being sure about our parents’ medical history is to tag along with them to the hospital or the doctor’s clinic they visit for their routine health check-ups and ask questions to the doctor about their health. Being completely aware of the health conditions of parents is the first step to take before you start looking for a health insurance plan for them. Being equipped with this information helps you look through plans that provide relevant coverage and also be aware of what is excluded in them.
Read the terms and conditions
In order to filter out the right health insurance plan, you must evaluate the policies available from various companies on a few parameters. Some of these are room eligibility/rent limits, co-pay, surgery/treatment limits. When you start looking for health insurance plans for your parents you might come across plans that are surprisingly cheap. But the low price could be accompanied with many toxic conditions that restrict the usage of the plan significantly. Hence, you must read through the terms and conditions in the policy wordings cautiously to know and be aware of any applicable limitations.
You must always prefer plans that do not have these restrictions. However, in a scenario where you do not have a choice, it is recommended you take whatever is available, instead of keeping your parents uncovered. Moreover, if your parents are aged above 60 years, and suffer from any chronic ailment or condition, insurers may either try to increase the premium or insert additional terms & conditions in the plan. You must be aware of these.
Decide on adequate sum insured
Ensure that you factor in medical inflation and the health of your parents before you arrive at the sum insured. Remember, it is extremely difficult to increase the sum insured of the health insurance plan of your parents, once the policy is issued and comes into effect. Sum insured should be chosen assuming an inflation rate of 8-10 per cent annually, till the time your parents turn 80.
Buying a senior citizen health insurance plan
The process of buying a health insurance plan for your parents is very simple and easy; you just have to fill in the proposal form with details of your parents, their health status and history. Pay the applicable premium from the various payment options available. The insurer will then analyse the application and may call in to understand more about their health condition. The insurer might also ask parents to undergo a medical check-up. On analysing the information received, the insurer will either issue a policy, request for an additional premium, or, in the worst case scenario, decline your application.
For making a claim from your parents’ health insurance plan, the same standard process is followed as is applicable for all other health insurance policies. Claims are paid according to the terms and conditions of the health insurance plan bought. In order to ensure the claims experience is smooth, especially in the case of planned hospitalization, it is always better to plan in advance. You must intimate insurance companies and the network hospital in advance to get cashless benefits at the required time. If there are multiple policies from which you have a choice to make a claim from, always prefer employer facilitated policies, against your own, personal insurance policies.
Having a health insurance plan for your senior citizen parents will save you from the horrors of running out of money or arranging funds when unplanned medical expenses strike.
(The writer is Director – Health, Life & Strategic Initiatives at Coverfox)