Covid-19: How to select a good health insurance plan for senior citizens

By Amit Chhabra

Age brings in several health complications along with reduced resistance to disease. It is important that senior citizens have an adequate health insurance cover an as the cost of treatment for coronavirus infection is significantly higher amongst people above the age of 60.

The insurance market has numerous health insurance plans that specifically target senior citizens and even those with pre-existing diseases. It is strongly suggested to go for an independent policy rather than group policy as a group cover does not always include pre-existing diseases. In an independent policy, most of the pre-existing diseases get covered and even the chances of claims getting approved are highest. You can even avail a tax benefit of up to Rs 25,000 under Section 80D on health insurance premium paid for self, spouse, children, and parents. And in the case of elderly parents (above 60 years of age), the benefit goes up to Rs 50,000 with the latest amendment in tax slabs.

Comprehensive health insurance plan
Senior citizens must give first priority to a comprehensive health insurance plan rather than buying a disease-specific cover. Such covers do not promise comprehensive coverage. Senior citizens are more vulnerable to multiple diseases due to their age and it is important that they opt for a comprehensive health insurance indemnity plan as such plans provide adequate coverage against most ailments.

If an individual is above 60 and is not covered under any health plan, only then should he think of senior citizen health plans. This is because senior citizens’ specific health plans come with various restrictions such as compulsory co-pay requirement and often have sub-limits. Their premiums are also higher compared to a regular plan. While buying a health plan for senior citizens, the first priority must be comprehensive health policy. If the person is above the entry age of a regular health plan, the second priority must be senior citizen specific health plans.

The minimum sum insured that senior citizens must opt for is Rs 10 lakh and also before buying a plan, it is important to compare both pricing and features of products from various players. One must know that a higher sum insured doesn’t always mean that the entire medical expense will be paid by the insurer at the time of a claim. This is mainly due to sub-limits and co-pay clause in the health insurance policy where part of the treatment expenses need to be borne by the policyholder. This is why one should check for important clauses at the time of purchasing a policy.

Buy a critical illness cover
It is also prudent to buy a critical illness cover along with a regular health plan. This is because, a regular health insurance policy covers only hospitalisation expenses and the cover may prove to be insufficient in case of a major, life-threatening ailment. Medical treatments for diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, kidney failure, bypass surgery and others can be very costly, and the sum insured of a regular health plan may not suffice to cover the cost.

Another successful way of augmenting the sum insured is buying a super-top-up over and above the base plan. If a senior citizen is able to get a super top-up insurance plan, it’s a great idea for increasing the coverage at a low cost.