Opting for medical treatment overseas is never an easy option. Right from travel logistics, lodging arrangements, language barriers, absence of family network on an alien land, and of course the medical costs involved make it a difficult proposition. In most cases, the treatment cost is the most critical deciding factor. It holds the bad reputation for being akin to the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back.
However, in trying times, one needs to take tough decisions and when it comes to health one strives to get nothing but the very best. And that’s how it should be. One should not have to compromise on getting access to good or even private healthcare facilities or hospitalisation abroad.
The right insurance cover can help take care of at least one of the factors in this matrix: treatment cost. You can either choose a health insurance plan that covers planned overseas treatment or opt for adding a global cover for hospitalisation on your existing health insurance plan.
Most regular insurance policies do not offer coverage outside India so ask your insurance company for any optional global covers that can be added to your policy. Usually, international health insurance plans are quite expensive, and addition of a simple Cover can get you benefits of medical treatments both in India and abroad.
The rationale is simple, medical exigences are often unforeseen, and choices are always empowering. Get a global cover so that in case of an unfortunate diagnosis of a serious medical condition, you have the choice to get the best treatment available globally without any second thoughts about affordability of treatment or hospitalisation.
Choose the global cover prudently by comparing health insurance plans to find the right amount of health coverage at affordable rates. Opt for a health insurance plan that is adequate in all respects and does not get exhausted in the middle of the treatment, thereby forcing you to either settle exorbitant bills from your own pocket or to compromise on the quality of healthcare. It can also be very unsettling to switch from one healthcare provider to another in the middle of the treatment to cut costs.
It will also be ideal to have a plan that covers for medical repatriation and evacuation. For example, travel costs between the native country and the one where you have chosen to avail medical treatment and healthcare services. Depending on the treatment protocol, sometimes multiple transfers are required adding heavily to the treatment cost. Currency exchange rates also make intra-country transfers very expensive. Transfers may also include transportation by ambulance or a rescue helicopter.
Ensure that the plan has a pre-existing disease cover in case you have had a history of chronic illnesses, diabetes etc. Read the fine print and check the waiting period specified by the policy, if any. The feature will make it easier to avail emergency treatment overseas in the event such a need arises while you are travelling abroad. Even minor non-invasive procedures or doctor consultations abroad are expensive. So, ascertain what benefits does your plan offer in such cases.
Another important consideration is diagnostic tests. While most of the major expenses in global healthcare come from inpatient and day-care hospitalisation, diagnostic tests are expensive too. Therefore, check if your global health insurance coverage includes the costs of tests.
Sign up for a global cover for planned hospitalisation that offers cashless benefits where your insurance company can settle the bills directly with the hospital. Many companies offers completely hassle-free claim settlement process for medical facilities availed; however, the cashless benefit may be considered in some cases in case of global cover for planned hospitalisation.
The health insurance plan, under Section 80D, also helps you claim a deduction of up to ₹25,000 if you are below the age of 60 years. Some covers also offer a cumulative bonus on your health insurance policy if you do not file any claims.
Hence, when you finally utilise the cover, the basic sum insured applicable to global cover, along with the cumulative bonus of up to a maximum of 100% of the coverage, can be used.
A health insurance policy offering global cover for planned hospitalisation can give you the power of choice to avail the best treatment available globally. Get one that suits your needs and offers benefits of medical treatments both in India and abroad.
Amit Ganorkar is the Chief Operating Officer, Tata AIG General Insurance Co. Ltd.