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Women & Health Insurance

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Many women these days are “Doing it All” – From being a working woman, to caring for elderly parents, to raising children, to paying the bills, to running a household, to managing as a single mom may be…it can be exhausting and thankless but its true for thousands of women in India. 
With all of their “Doing it All,” there’s one thing every woman will agree isn’t happening: They are so busy taking care of everyone else that they aren’t taking care of themselves. Multi-tasking is in their DNA but taking care of themselves they say is a luxury which they only dream of and only a limited few have experienced. 
And buying a Health Insurance policy is no exception to it, given that it is a part of “Taking Care”.  
A woman in India is generally covered as one of the dependents in a Health Insurance Policy or if she happens to be a working woman, then probably covered under the Group Health Insurance cover offered by her employer. 
And because women are more likely than men to be covered as dependents, a woman is at greater risk of losing her insurance if she becomes widowed or divorced, her spouse loses a job, or her spouse’s employer drops family coverage or increases premium and out-of-pocket costs to unaffordable levels.
With health insurance not being mandatory in India, it is imperative that every individual, irrespective of gender, should have an independent health insurance cover for self. 
Just like motor insurance or for that manner any insurance, health insurance is also an insurance that you pay premium for but pray and hope that you will never need to make use of activate it. Buying a health insurance policy means investing in your quality of life as well. Having insurance can even pay for preventive treatments besides catering to emergency hospitalisations ,to treating illnesses or incidents caused by an unforeseen accident. 
  • No one really plans to get sick but all of us at some point of time need medical care. Health Insurance covers the cost attached to the medical care and can also assure you of quality care. A few reasons that will make you realise the importance of picking up a cover for yourself or for the woman in the house are:
  • Health Insurance protects youu from the unexpected and may befrom the  high medical costs following an ailment. With medical inflation being on the rise and quality care on your priority, health insurance can avoid a dent in your financial savings. 
  • You can make use of the renewal benefits like a free health check up once in a few years to ensure you are in good health. 
  • Women go through different life stages and one of the most important ones being maternity. Maternity and new born baby cover can ensure the mother and the baby are taken care of well. One of the finer nuances to be noticed in coverage is to ensure the baby cover starts from day 1 and not after 3 months. Mostly there are products where cover starts only after 3 months – avoid that even if it falls cheaper. Get a comprehensive cover where new born baby cover starts from Day 1 itself 
  • A health insurance cover generally comes with a cashless facility across a selected but wide network of hospitals where you don’t have to worry about paying cash at the hospital. 
  • A Comprehensive Health Insurance portfolio can ensure an end-to-end coverage against unforeseen accidents, hospitalisations, woman specific surgical treatments and even critical illnesses that are gender-neutral and women-centric. 
  • There are various health insurance plans that are available in the market to choose from. However if you are the woman of the house, this is what you should look at.
  • If you are a working woman and are already covered under the group health insurance plan, pick up a High Deductible plan to top it up and complement it with a critical illness cover that includes general critical illnesses and those that are specific to women too. 
  • The High Deductible plan will ensure you can buy a very high limit policy which would come in handy should the need arises for getting high quality treatment. can choose to get quality treatment at an economical additional cost. 
The Critical Illness plan will ensure that just in case you are diagnosed with any of the major critical illnesses, you don’t have to dip into your savings to take survive. 
  • If you are a dependent wife, ensure your spouse’s employer health insurance covers you as a dependent. If it doesn’t, contact a preferred insurance company to buy an indemnity based health insurance plan that includes maternity and new born baby cover, if you are on the family planning route. With rising medical inflation, the employers too have restrictive covers, making the group health insurance incomplete and insufficient. Also, some of the organisations now cover only the employer and if his family needs to be covered, the employer needs to pay for the premium himself. So ensure your spouse is aware of this and accordingly does the needful. 
  • If you are a dependent girl child, ensure your parent’s employer health insurance covers you as a dependent. If it doesn’t, ask your parents to contact a preferred insurance company to buy an indemnity based health insurance plan that additionally covers your parents and you.  
  • Do not buy Health Insurance only for tax saving purpose.
  • Read the Policy terms and conditions, make proper disclosures to ensure that you don’t get shockers when you need the policy to respond.
  • Take time to fill in the proposal form yourself and make proper disclosures
A quick checklist to ensure your health insurance plan, though basic, offers at least the following: 
  • Hassle free claims process; Cashless facility across a strong network of hospitals
  • Comprehensive cover that includes maternity as an event and new born baby cover 
  • Guaranteed insurability at renewal for a long term: Ensure your policy continues to get renewed irrespective of health status and claims status
  • No co-pay; 
  • No sub-limits; 
  • Nil loading on renewal premium 
  • Coverage against pre-existing conditions during the policy term
  • Transparent coverage norms and terms and conditions
Health insurance plans need to be bought basis your individual, life stage and lifestyle needs and not just because it’s the most popular plan in the market. If you are a single working woman, a basic reimbursement plan should be sufficient. Ensure the sum insured is appropriate enough given the rising medical inflation and your priority for quality care. A Sum Insured of at least half your income should be taken to start off with. 
However if you are married and planning a family, a health insurance plan that includes coverage for maternity and its complications, should be ideal. Therefore, make sure you do your individual need analysis before you buy a health insurance plan. 
Time to try a healthy approach…ensure you go for a walk every day, include a fruit or two in your routine diet, go for a health check-up this weekend and re-visit your health insurance portfolio immediately. Do yourself a favour…take time out…I am sure you will not regret it!
Take care…    
The author, M. Ravichandran, is President - Insurance, Tata AIG General Insurance Co. Ltd

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