Things to know while buying health insurance for your parents

parental care Oct 28, 2019

With transformative strides in the field of medicine and healthcare, the life expectancy of Indians has witnessed a massive increase. People have, by and large, started following a healthier, happier and safer lifestyle. In fact, in the last decade, the coverage of medical networks has expanded.

However, the consistently rising rate of inflation has rendered many health services expensive. Medical treatments have begun to escape the common man's reach while out-of-pocket expenditures are registering a steady upsurge. In such an environment, the greatest suffering is being incurred by the senior citizens.

The health problems of the elderly, who are leading a retired life, are both - basic and chronic. Their vitals need to be constantly monitored and their medication has to be regularly renewed. As a result, costs are severely escalated and senior citizens end up footing the bill by breaking into their savings.

It is precisely to stop such a situation from arising that health insurance services are currently being offered by various insurers and are specifically targeted at elderly care. If you are living abroad for instance, purchasing a good health insurance can prove to be a wonderful way of securing parental healthcare.

Nonetheless, before you buy health insurance for your parents, it would be wise to know a few things about the policies available at hand. Although choosing the best policy can often be a cumbersome task, listed here are a group of factors that you need to strictly evaluate -

1. Age Of Entry & Renewal

When picking out a health insurance policy for your parents in India, make sure that you browse through its fine print - especially the sections pertaining to age limits. Most insurers offer health policies for seniors who are aged between 60-80 years. If your parents are below 60, they wouldn't be eligible to avail the benefits of a senior citizen health policy. Similarly, if they are above 80, getting the policy renewed would be difficult.

Nevertheless, these age limits vary from one service provider to another. Therefore, it would be appropriate to choose a policy that provides a flexible entry and renewal age while covering both, home care assistance and emergency services for elderly.

2. Total Coverage

Purchasing a good health insurance plan for your parents can often prove to be an expensive affair. This is because, with advancing age, the vulnerability to diseases also increases. Consequently, you end up requiring a policy that covers the maximum number of illnesses and leaves out only a bare minimum. So, go for a health plan that offers total, absolute and complete coverage.

Read through the list of critical, chronic and general illnesses covered and find out whether the insurer takes care of hereditary medical conditions if any. A comprehensive policy review would make sure that your parents receive the best possible medical treatments and home care services.

3. Empanelled Network

Every health insurance policy comes loaded with an empanelled network of hospitals. These hospitals are meant to provide primary, secondary and tertiary health care as and when the insured people approach them. While buying a policy, ascertain which specific hospitals are empanelled by your health insurer.

Figure out if a doctor on call is available in these centers. Also, find out if these hospitals provide for specialized treatments and in-house pharmacy delivery. Based on such factors, choose a policy which covers a wide network of hospitals, including those that are situated in the immediate vicinity of your parents' location.

4. Pre-Existing Conditions

For most practical purposes, the health insurance plan that you purchase will clearly define which pre-existing conditions are covered under its umbrella. These conditions might range from diabetes and arthritis to asthma and palpitations. By law, insurers can't refuse to cover the costs incurred on the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions. More so, they can't even charge you exorbitantly for these.

However, they are free to prescribe a certain waiting period before which a claim for pre-existing conditions can be made. It is important to look into the provisions for such conditions in detail because most elderly people are hospitalized owing to their past illnesses.

5. Premiums & Co-Payments

Last but not the least, check your health insurance policy for premiums and co-payment options. Because elderly people are at a higher risk of contracting critical illnesses, the premiums charged on their policies tend to be higher. Nonetheless, age is not the only determiner of premium rates. Other influencing factors include family history, lifestyle, smoking habits, gender and previous records.

At times, some policies also carry a co-payment option where your parents might be asked to share a part of the total medical expenditure. Read through these clauses carefully and select a plan that best suits the needs and requirements of your parents.

According to the results of the decadal Census 2011 , about 104 million elderly people (aged 60 or above) are residing in India. Their children either live in faraway cities or are expats. In such a situation, the backing of competent insurance policy works wonders for securing the medical needs of senior citizens. Not only do such policies help sponsor home care nursing services but they also ensure that the treatment costs of the elderly are met with efficiency and precision.

After all, the golden years of your parents' lives need to be extremely healthy, joyful and stress-free. Providing them with the best home healthcare coupled with a great insurance plan is thus, your primary responsibility!

Sushant Reddy

Sushant is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about transforming senior heatlhcare in India