With increasing incidences of critical illnesses, such as heart ailments, insurance policies covering such diseases are a must-have in your insurance portfolio.
While mediclaim policies cover the hospitalization expense the reality is that you incur a significant non-hospitalization expense, in case you or your loved ones get afflicted by one of the critical illnesses. These expenses can include therapy, post-surgery care, medicines, OPD charges and so on. And these expenses can be backbreaking for any family especially given the fact that the cost of healthcare is increasing as rapidly as the incidences of the critical illnesses in the country.
These unplanned medical expenses can derail your journey towards your life goals. For instance, the cost of angioplasty can bring you down by ` 2 to ` 4 lakh, depending on the type of stent you go for. A bypass surgery will cost you as much as ` 2.5 to ` 6 lakh depending on several factors like the hospital or location.
The growing incidences of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases further make it imperative to go for a critical illness cover which gives a lump sum which help you in meeting the non-hospitalization expense as well. Just to put this in perspective, Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) are growing at 9.5% annually and are one of the fastest growing chronic illnesses in the country, according to ASSOCHAM-Deloitte joint study. CVDs account for one-fourth of all deaths in India.
So while we know for sure that critical illness covers are 'critical' for your financial health, it is equally important to know how to choose a good critical illness cover. Here are a few tips for choosing the ideal critical illness cover for you:
1. Know the cost of medical procedures:
Quite often we purchase a health policy without even understanding the cost of medical procedures or the expenses for regular follow-ups after hospitalization or in-house care required in case of a critical illness. Before deciding on a cover, you should know what it could cost if some illness of serious nature strikes you in future. Go for a higher cover to account for inflation and periodic increase in the cost of health care.
2. Know the critical illness plans:
Before buying a plan, do a thorough research on how many diseases and procedures it covers. Just a large number of diseases covered may not mean much until you know what procedures are covered, and if there are any limits on expenses. Weigh all the options and resist the urge to go for the cheapest product. Here you also need to decide whether to go for a separate critical illness plan or you can combine critical illness riders with your life or health insurance plans. It really depends on your requirement. A stand-alone policy provides more freedom in deciding the sum insured and gives you a larger cover when compared with riders. Usually the limit on sum insured under a rider is the same as base policy. For instance, if you have a term insurance of ` 10 lakh then the critical illness rider along with it is not likely to be more than ` 10 lakh. Because of these limitations, it might be better to go for a separate critical illness cover.
3. Know your finances:
You wouldn't want to spend your savings on meeting hospital bills. Consider all the factors like what is the premium, how many family members are covered in the policy, if the plan covers dependent parents and do you get the premiums back at the time of maturity in case you never need to claim from the policy. Take into account any existing covers such as mediclaim or health insurance plan that you might have.
4. Know your age and lifestyle situation:
Age is a big consideration while going for a critical illness cover. Older people should buy larger covers since they are more vulnerable to illnesses and also because the health insurance plans are expensive and offer low sum assured. You may need to consider your lifestyle before deciding the amount. A healthy lifestyle helps in minimizing the risk of a critical illness. But if you are a smoker, and walking up to your car is the only exercise that you indulge yourself in, or if your family has a history of diseases like diabetes or blood pressure, you need to buy a large critical illness plan, which covers most of these diseases.
5. Look for special features:
Some policies may have a special feature like return of total premium on maturity, waiver of premium on accidental partial or total disability rider. Choose the features or riders judiciously as per your requirements.
Bajaj Allianz Life recently launched Health Care Goal, a complete health insurance plan which covers as many as 36 critical illnesses. Further it covers six family members and in case you do need to claim sum assured on behalf of one of the family members, it doesn't impact the cover of other members.
This World Heart Day, go for a critical illness plan, which protects your finances in case you are afflicted by a cardiovascular disease. It will also help you to live a stress-free life. Keep these tips in mind before you purchase critical illness cover to get the maximum benefit. Till then, stay healthy, stay stress free!