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Guide to Comparing Health Insurance Plans before Choosing the Right One

Do you remember those times when you went to a restaurant, ordered something, and then saw the person sitting at the next table order something more tempting? Or, for that matter, saw someone try on a more stunning dress than the one you just bought at a store? Well, though variety is the spice of life, sometimes, having too many options can be confusing. It is especially true when it comes to buying something as important as health insurance. You have to be extra careful to make the right choice in this case. So, let’s discuss why health insurance matters so much and how you can make an informed selection.     

Why do you even need a health insurance plan?

Well, simply because health is wealth. While being cautious with your diet and following a fitness regime is indeed a healthy way of living, you cannot always foresee an illness. There are many reasons like stress, sedentary lifestyle, food adulteration, genetic disorder or an accident, that can lead to hospitalisation. To make matters worse, we are living amidst a pandemic now. And unfortunately, the cost of healthcare keeps on rising every year. A medical emergency can put a big dent in your savings if you don’t have a health insurance policy. Having health insurance can not only protect you against financial stress in such situationsbut also give you the freedom of choosing the best medical care available at the earliest possible, without getting worked up about bills.  

So, how do you choose the right one?

These days, almost everyone gets flooded with emails and calls from different insurance companies,apparently offering the best deal for a limited period. So, it is natural to feel a bit restless, knowing that you might lose a great offer if you don’t decide quickly. However, understand that the market will always have good deals, but it’s more important to do thorough research about different plans available and compare them based on how apt they are for your unique needs.

Health Insurance Plans - Is comparing necessary?

Comparing might initially look like a tedious job, but it really isn’t. Most health insurance policies are available online today, and therefore, it’s easy to compare health insurance plans and then buy one from the comfort of your home. Some of the benefits of comparison are:

  • With research, you will be able to zeroin on the kind of health insurance plan you want. An individual policy, family floater, and senior citizen policy are some of the options.  You can learn about added benefits like top-up plans and additional covers. You will become more aware of the waiting periods, claim process, inclusions and exclusions, and therefore, will be able to analyze more.  

  • Comparing will also help you in making an informed choice. If you choose the first available plan, you may miss out on a better plan because of your haste and lack of research. Without comparison, you may end up buying a health product with lower coverage, higher premium, and several exclusions.

So, how do you get started?

Well, you can go online,visit websites of multiple insurance companies, and compare their features. Or, you can choose web aggregators that offer readymade comparisons. These portals will require some information from you, and will then calculate the premium offered by each insurer. You can then choose between keeping your needs in mind. The offline way is to meet an insurance agent. But the benefits of makinga comparison online outweigh the offline mode, as you are able to make an unbiased choice.

  • When you research online, it saves you a great deal of time and energy. Also, the process requires no additional charges. You get the quotes on the premium and learn about instalments and duration flexibility, etc. with the click of a button.

  • The FAQ section on the insurance company websites answers most of your queries, and for any additional question, you can use the live chat assistance feature that most of these websites have. They also have a user-friendly interface, which means you can easily navigate through the pages.

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What all should you Compare Health Insurance Plans?

There are a few things you should keep an eye on while comparing plans, such as:

  • Premium and coverage: Obviously, the first thing you should check is the sum insured by the policy and the premium charged for it. Look for comprehensive coverage at a smaller compensation.  

  • The Reputation of the insurance company: There are multiple insurance companies out there. So, check the brand reviews and whether IRDAI regulates it. Reading reviews and speaking to its past and current customers will give you an idea about the company. More importantly, check its claim settlement ratio.

  • Cashless treatment with longlist of network hospitals: Pick a plan that provides cashless treatment at several hospitals in your vicinity,as a part of its network list.

  • Availability of top-up or refill plans: Such plans help when the sum insured is not enough or is exhausted. Pick a plan that offers such additional coverage. 

  • Waiting period and renewability: There is a waiting period after you buy a policy,during which you won’t be given any claim or reimbursement. So, opt for a plan with a smaller waiting period. Similarly, check the renewability terms and conditions of the plan. A policythat follows IRDAI’s rule of offering renewability for life is better because the need for health insurance increases with age.

  • Inclusions and exclusions : Check if the policy covers day-care procedures, i.e. the expense for treatments that don’t mandatorily require 24 hours hospitalisation. Check if it covers costs for organ donation, accidents, psychiatric illness, bariatric surgery, and critical illnesses like cancer, heart attack, etc. or if you need to a separate add-on cover for that. Similarly, check if maternity expenses, AYUSH treatment, and Zone Upgrade add-ons are part of it. 

  • Other terms and conditions   Look at products with no room rent capping, no sub-limit and no co-payment, to prevent any liability in the future. See if the policy includes complimentary health check-ups, daily hospital cash, and more importantly, income tax exemption certificate for the premium paid.

Why is your friend getting a different offer from the same insurance provider?

Well, two individuals might not get the same offer from the same company, because your requirement from a health insurance policy is likely to be different. Secondly, insurance companies base their offer on various factors. Though different policy providers have different parameters for assessing the premium, let’s quickly take a look at the common factors that decide your plan:

  • Income: The coverage will decide the type of hospitals and services you can opt for. And bigger the coverage,higherwill be your monthly/annual premium. So, not only will you have to think about your budget, but the insurance company will also consider your annual income before suggesting you a plan.

  • Age: As the years pass, the chances of developing health issues increase. So, to lower its risk, the company might ask an elderly applicant to go for higher coverage. Inthe case of hospitalization, the applicant will be immensely benefitted, though.

  • Medical history: Any previous ailment or pre-existing disease or the possibility of a genetic disorder demands a plan with better coverage.

  • Profession and location: The neighbourhood you live in and the work you do mayaffect your health.For example, if you live in an area that ranks low on sanitation or where healthcare facilities are expensive or if you work in an industry where chances of developing a chronic disease are higher, your plan should cover potential health threats.

Conclusion: All in all, health insurance is vital for every individual, and it is equally essential for you to research the different products that are available before buying any plan. Comparison gives you the power to make an informed choice about a plan that suits both your budget and needs and gives you maximum benefits. Moreover, online research helps in the better assessment as it is both convenient and more conclusive.   

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