Union Health Ministry’s India Report on Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1 states that in India around 75% of the elderly are suffering from one or the other chronic diseases. It further states that the self-reported prevalence of diagnosed cardiovascular diseases is 34% in the 60-74 year age group and 37% among 75 years and above. Our parents are more vulnerable to diseases than any other age group.
With 14% medical inflation in India, a critical question therefore remains, how would our elders, who are in the post-retirement category, fund their medical expenses?
Health insurance penetration in India for the 60+ age group is low. To understand the reason one needs to go back in history. When our parents started their career, the health insurance industry in India was not as mature as it is today. Products were limited, prices were high and awareness was also quite low. Moreover, trust on claim settlement was also an issue back then which prevented many from opting for health insurance policies.
Things have changed significantly for the better over the past couple of decades. Customers have realised the necessity of health insurance and we also now have a plethora of insurance companies offering a host of health insurance products especially for parents.
InsurTechs have also made a big difference overall on product innovation and accessibility. Individual customers now have several means to secure health and wellness for their parents. However, not many are aware of the different options. On the occasion of National Parents’ Day, let us take a deep dive into how to secure the health and wellness of our parents.
Retail health insurance for parents: Individual customers can buy three types of retail policies for their parents - Individual health insurance, family floater health insurance and Senior citizen health insurance.
Individual health insurance policies can be bought in the name of your parents. It is like any standard retail health insurance policy. In case of family floaters, individuals can include themselves and parents under the same policy and thereby enjoy the benefits of an extended sum assured.
Senior citizen policies are however the best for parents above 60 years. These are custom made policies for senior citizens which take care of their different medical requirements. It also comes with added home hospitalisation benefits
Retail policies, especially senior citizen covers can be your ideal choice in most cases. However it does come with several challenges thereby creating entry restrictions.
Age bar: Retail policies are in most cases not issued to customers after they are 65 years old. Therefore, you have to pick your choice early.
Pre-existing diseases: We live in a country where everyone out of five people have diabetes. 90% of the parents who we are enrolling for retail policies will have pre-existing illnesses and therefore are likely to get excluded in the retail policies.
Insurance from employers: Also termed as group health insurance (GHI), this is by far the best alternative for parental coverage. In a country as vast as India, it is impossible to reach out to each and every one through government facilitated healthcare services alone. Needless to say, health insurance penetration can also not be augmented through individual policies.
Under such circumstances, group health insurances become extremely important. While several Indian companies are already extending insurance for Employee, Spouse, Children (ESC), it is now needed to upgrade it to ESCP where P stands for parents.
Group health insurance has several advantages
· No age bar
· No pre-medical check-up
· Coverage applicable from day one
· Covers pre-existing diseases
Earlier, ‘Cost’ and ‘Change of job’ were cited as two major drawbacks for parental coverage in GHI. However, product innovations have ensured that these are no longer barriers. Here’s how.
Voluntary top-ups: Nowadays multiple customisations are available on health insurance policies. Converting an employee’s ESC cover into an ESCP can be left at the discretion of the employee. The additional cost for including parents into the policy can therefore be shared between the employee and the employer. The premium still works out to be more economical than opting for an individual retail cover besides discounts are also offered by insurance providers on multiple instances.
Insurance portability: In the case of a job change, employees can also transfer their GHIs in their own name thereby converting it into an individual policy. The waiting period remains intact.
An ideal group health insurance policy with parental cover should have a minimum sum assured of Rs. 5 lakh. It should have the option of including either parents or parent-in-law of employees, should be comprehensive and must include post hospitalisation expenses as well such as physiotherapy and mental well-being sessions. It should also cover all ailments without any capping. AYUSH treatment should also be included, it is economical and there are many diseases which can be cured easily through AYUSH.
As a society we have a moral responsibility towards our elders. It is our collective responsibility to spread awareness about the various health insurance opportunities that are available in our country which will help to secure the health and wellness of our parents. Be aware and well-prepared for any medical emergencies.
Abhishek Poddar is the Co-founder and CEO of Plum