Dynamics of Healthcare business have undergone an extensive transformation in the last decade. Having a Health Insurance is no more an option today – it is a necessity. Yet people – especially the young ones – avoid taking health cover believing this product is meant for elderly people. Many individuals consider their current good health as a reason for not considering Health Insurance. Also, many who have Health Insurance policies on them, develop a cold feet at the time of renewal after a couple of claim-free years. Most people do not even bother about Health Insurance till they touch their 40s and begin to struggle with health issues that come with age. However, today’s reality is that a medical emergency can strike anytime, to anyone and anywhere. There are several trends that make us believe that one must have a Health Insurance at the earliest, irrespective of age, gender or family’s medical history.
1) Changing Economics of Healthcare: Hospitalization for medical treatment costs a lot more these days than what it did a decade ago. Estimates suggest that medical inflation in India has been running in double-digits for the last few years. Today, even a small routine surgical procedure can easily cost up toRs 100,000. According to World Bank, 40% of people hospitalized in India are forced to borrow money or sell assets to cover their medical expenses. Hence, people certainly need a protection to safeguard against medical costs. Also, the medical care is becoming less invasive and more costly due to new technology. The cost of super-specialty equipment and robotics is obviously passed on to patients. Not everyone will be able to afford such facilities on their own resources. Amid the changing economics of healthcare business, not having a Health Insurance could be risky to one’s physical as well as financial health.
2) Rise in Lifestyle-related Ailments: There has been a conspicuous rise in the ailments related to lifestyles such as diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases etc. among Indians. Stress levels in individuals have gone up noticeably in the last few years. Long working hours, limited or absolute lack of physical activity and exercise, disregard for a healthy balanced diet and a rising dependence on unhealthy fast food lead to weakening immune systems and put individuals at an increased risk of contracting illnesses. Even women and young professionals are getting vulnerable to such lifestyle ailments. While these are disturbing trends, these are the realities of today’s lifestyle and the lifestyle-related ailments are likely to become major healthcare concern, going forward.
3) Rising Instances of Accidents: The rising number of vehicles on roads is a sign of economic progress of the country. However, the rising number of vehicles has its own downsides. Rising number of vehicles has resulted in the rise in the number of road accidents. According to a Journal of Orthopedics, Traumatology and Rehabilitation research (“National statistics of road traffic accidents in India”), close to 5,00,000road accidents were reported by all States/ UTs during 2011. The proportion of fatal accidents in the total road accidents has consistently increased since 2002 from 18.1% to 24.4% in 2011. The severity of road accidents measured in terms of persons killed per 100 accidents has also increased from 20.8 in 2002 to 28.6 in 2011. Exposure of population to road accidents leading to deaths and injuries depends, among other things, on the number of motor vehicles and the amount of motorized traffic. Accidents happen due to victim’s own mistake or even other party’s mistake.
Based on these trends, one can conclude that the Health Insurance is no more a product for the elderly. In today’s world, where stress and uncertainty are inseparable from human life, Health Insurance may be the best hedge against the rising cost of staying healthy. Medical emergencies can strike on anyone irrespective of age. There has been an increase in the number of claims being made by the people in the age group of 26-40 years. Amid this scenario, one cannot afford to wait for the “right” time for taking Health Insurance. It is a product meant for everyone from a new-born child to an elderly individual – all of who are vulnerable to medical emergencies, irrespective of age, gender or family’s medical history.
We strongly believe that one should not wait for any accident or medical condition to strike to seek a Health Insurance. Moreover, it helps to get a Health Insurance at an early age as the premium would be lower. We must keep in mind that the world we live in is full of uncertainties and a non-threatening medical condition at times can turn into a critical one. In such times of medical emergencies, a good Health Insurance policy can keep you financially secure. So irrespective of your age and how good your health has been, the right time to get a Health Insurance is “NOW”.
Mukesh Kumar, Executive Director, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company