As senior citizens are more vulnerable to falling ill, their medical expenses, and thereby insurance premiums, are bound to be higher.
As an array of health insurance players offer bespoke policies catering only to senior citizens, there are options galore for the citizens in their golden years.
These policies have a smaller waiting period, facility of co-pay and cover chronic conditions as well, say experts.
“Insurers have started offering flexible medical insurance plans focussing on senior citizens. Over the past few years, I have seen a steady increase in health insurances available to seniors. These have small waiting periods, in one case just one year. Most of these insurances have a co-pay to keep costs down. The main benefit of these insurances is that they are priced to accommodate minor chronic conditions that seniors often have,” said Kapil Mehta, Co-founder, SecureNow.
“Since most senior citizens suffer from specific illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, certain insurers cover these PEDs from the day one,” says Siddharth Singhal, Business Head, Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com.
ManipalCigna Health Insurance, for instance, offers Prime Senior policy catering to senior citizens.
“We understand that seniors have unique health needs, and they deserve access to better healthcare. With our specialized health insurance plan ‘ManipalCigna Prime Senior’, we give senior citizens better coverage, better control and better care to meet their day-to-day healthcare-related needs,” says Prasun Sikdar, MD and CEO, ManipalCigna Health Insurance.
The plan offers flexibility with lower waiting periods and provides immediate coverage for pre-existing disease (PED) conditions from 91st day onwards.
“The ManipalCigna Prime Senior plan is designed after considering the various problems that people face in the golden years of their life. They may have suffered from medical complications earlier or may have an income problem as most of them are living on their retirement funds,” says Sikdar.
Common features of flexible insurance plans
Most health insurance policies for senior citizens offer a slew of flexible coverage options:
Comprehensive Coverage: Most senior citizen health insurance policies cover pre and post-hospitalisation expenses, ICU charges, room rent expenses, and include domiciliary treatment, OPD visits, telemedicine coverage, preventive health check-ups, etc. to battle any medical contingencies without financial concern.
Lower waiting period: As a number of citizens in their golden years tend to suffer from illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, certain insurers cover these PEDs from the day one.
“In addition, the waiting period often comes as a pain point when senior citizens need medical attention. For this, insurance providers have a stellar feature the usual waiting period of 3–4 years in a policy has now been brought down to 90 days in certain policies,” says Mr Singhal.
Co-payment: The premiums for a policy with a co-payment, deductible, and sub-limits clause are priced lower. Therefore, senior citizens can opt for higher-sum insured policies at lower premiums. “Depending on their financial capacity, senior citizens can choose any option and make their coverage as comprehensive as they want,” adds Mr Singhal of Policybazaar.
Cover for critical illness: Since older population is prone to critical illness, they require advanced treatment that a normal policy may not cover.
“Insurance providers offer additional financial protection in the event of a serious medical condition, such as cardiac issues, cancer, brain tumours, organ transplants, and many other diseases that require costly medical treatments and constant care,” adds Mr Singhal.
Premium to pay
There is a belief, and rightly so, that the older the policyholder gets, the higher the premium. Additionally, older people are more prone to falling ill and their probability of availing the insurance claim is relatively higher.
The insurance companies, therefore, offer bespoke plans that can be tweaked according to the individual needs of the policyholders.
Some insurers have also rolled out riders along with standard health insurance coverage.
“By paying a little extra, policyholders can benefit from additional riders like physiotherapy services at home, nursing care at home, tele-consultation for psychological conditions. For instance, for a sum insured of ₹10 lakh, a 61-year-old needs to pay ₹28,000 approx. In this scenario, the policyholder has the option to choose a 20 percent co-pay clause, and even PED (pre-existing diseases) waiting period is 24 months (with an option to reduce it to 90 days),” says Mr Singhal.
At the same time,there are a few insurance companies that offer health policies for super senior citizens (80 plus) as well.