What you need to look for in a maternity insurance plan

A young couple thinking of starting a family needs to take several factors into account before taking the plunge. Having a child is expensive, to put it bluntly. There are so many costs involved. And they start right from the time when you get pregnant. The visits to the gynecologist, the tests, the extra nutrition, the purchases you need to make – it all adds up to a hefty amount. And then there are the costs you will face if you are forced to leave your job when you are nearing the end of your pregnancy. That will entail foregoing the medical insurance and maternity benefits assured by your employer. Considering all the possibilities, it is best to take maternity insurance well in time.

Okay, so now you know you need maternity insurance. But do you know what to look for in a maternity insurance plan? Since it is a matter of vital importance, you have to think hard and research thoroughly before buying maternity cover. Here is a list of five things you need to keep in mind when buying maternity insurance.

1. Does your existing plan has a maternity insurance cover?

The first thing you need to understand is that maternity coverage is not available as a separate insurance policy; it is usually added on to your group or individual health insurance plan. It is quite possible that health insurance provided by your workplace includes maternity coverage as well. However, it is always better to check with your company, just to be sure. But if you are relying mostly on individual or family health insurance policies, there are chances that maternity coverage is not offered. Do talk to your insurance company about this, and if it does not offer maternity cover, shift to another policy that comes with such coverage.

2. Which condition does your maternity insurance cover?

Maternity costs are pretty high, and they start right from the initial stages of pregnancy. Consider the endless visits to the gynecologist, medical examinations, medicines and other pregnancy-associated purchases. It will come to quite a lot, especially given the soaring medical costs. You need to look out for what all your maternity insurance covers. Some plans cover hospital stays and associated procedures, but not the costs of medicines and miscellaneous items. Make sure you pick the right plan so that expenses that you require to pay from your pocket are minimal.

3. What are the maternity coverage sub-limits?

Most health insurance policies that provide maternity coverage usually limit their maternity payout. So, even if your health plan covers you for a few lakh rupees, your maternity payout from that coverage will be considerably less. For normal deliveries, sub-limits are generally between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000, and for caesarean deliveries, between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000. You need to keep your eyes open for the sub-limits when incorporating maternity insurance in your overall health plan.

4. What is the waiting period of your maternity insurance?

Maternity insurance comes with a waiting period. In most cases, the waiting period is anywhere between two and four years before you can make any maternity-related claim. Some policies extend this up to six years. So, it is essential to buy maternity cover as early as possible, long before you have the baby. Remember, if you are already pregnant, you might be denied maternity insurance as your pregnancy will be treated as a pre-existing condition. Look out for these clauses and choose carefully.

5. What is the premium you are being charged?

A major issue with maternity insurance is that the plan always comes with high premium rates. With most other conditions, there is a probability that you may not need the insurance; this enables insurance companies to make profits from your premium. But maternity insurance covers an almost certain condition. Insurance providers know that they will end up paying out a hefty amount if they incorporate this condition in their regular health policies. But even so, all insurance companies do not charge a very high premium. Scout around properly, spend some time researching and comparing policies, seek the help of friends and relatives who might already have taken maternity insurance and then zero in on the best plan that suits you.

In the end, do remember that maternity insurance forms a reliable safeguard against steep medical bills that you will run up during your pregnancy. No matter how high the premium, it is always worth it to take maternity insurance.

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