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 to Rs 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
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”.
Kumar, Executive Director, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company