Buying your First Health Insurance? Here’s what you should keep in mind.

Healthcare costs, which are already pretty high, keep on increasing year by year. Even if you have never really required hospitalization before now, buying a health insurance policy is still a good idea. Many people buy health insurance with the aim to save tax, but they fail to realize that buying a comprehensive plan can help save you from the crippling financial obligations of a medical emergency. However, from understanding the jargon employed in the policies tofinding the one that suits you best, there is a lot that goes into buying a health insurance policy. In fact, if you are buying health insurance for the first time, you need to be a little more careful. Here are some of the main things that you must keep in mind when you buy your first health insurance:

Your employer’s plan may not be the best option

These days, a number of companies buy group policies for their employees or give discounted options for you to buy into a group policy. While this is a good idea if you have a pre-existing illness or fall sick pretty often; but even if you are in relatively good health, you should definitely have an individual health insurance along with your corporate cover.

Apart from the obvious chance that the corporate cover might cease to work if you leave your job, there are a few insurance plans that don’t offer you a No Claim Bonus individually under group policies, while on individual plans you may claim at least 5% as No Claim Bonus, each year.

Check the Waiting Period for Pre-Existing Diseases

There are a number of policies that require a waiting period of up to 4 years before you can make a claim for a pre-existing disease. If you suffer from some condition, you must remember to check the waiting period of the policy that you aim to buy. You can also opt for add-on covers that help you waive off this waiting period.

Assess the Network hospitals and doctors

If you want to keep your regular doctor/hospital, you will have to check whether they are covered in your insurance. You also must scrutinize the list of network hospitals to find the ones that are close to your residence, office, or other places you frequent.Plus, in case you shift cities, the medical insurance should move with you, and should have network hospitals in major parts of the country as network hospitals are where you can avail cashless facilities. For example, hospital chains like Apollo, Fortis, and Max are hospitals that you can find in most cities including the major ones like Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. So, you can start by making sure that major hospital chains are a part of the network list.

Be well-informed about the Policy Coverage

Pay attention to ‘what is covered’and‘what is NOT covered’ in the policy;does the health insurance policy cover day care procedures, pre and post hospitalization expenses, maternity expenses, free health check-ups, etc.?Another key aspect to look at is the age limit of the insurance policy and if it has a lifetime renewability.

Going for the right ‘Sum Insured’

When you are selecting the total sum insured for your policy, you will need to keep costs in mind. If you live in a small city, a cover of about Rs. 3 Lakh – Rs. 5 Lakh should suffice, while if you live in a metropolitan, the Sum Insured will need to be higher. Also, don’t forget to keep increasing your medical cover with time, to account for inflation.

Only add the Add-On Cover you need

Almost all health insurance policies come with option of buying add-on covers. You need to do your research about these covers and make sure that you don’t buy anything you don’t need. You might not have a critical illness, but buying a critical illness cover is a good idea. However, if you don’t really travel much, a Global Hospitalization cover is not of much use to you; similarly, neither is a Maternity plan, unless you are expecting or are planning maternity.

How quick is the claims process?

The general time taken by the company for claim settlement and the ratio of claim settlements made must be taken into consideration. Check out how many people have put in claims and how many have been approved.

You will of course need to read through the policy document thoroughly before you buy a particular health insurance policy. Also, make sure that you are familiar with the jargon that is generally used in these policies as that will help you understand the benefits completely. With that said; you will of course need to compare to find the best policy,but don’t just rely on comparing different policies and going for the most affordable one;instead, buy the one that suits your health needs the best.

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