How does Health Insurance with Waiting Period Work?

As you grow older, the possibility of suffering from medical problems increases. However, unhealthy eating habits, stress, and sedentary lifestyles are resulting in people suffering from major illnesses at an early age as well.

Medical and healthcare costs are constantly increasing. An unexpected health condition and/or hospitalization may result in serious financial problems.

This situation may be easily avoided with a health insurance policy. In addition to covering treatment and hospitalization expenses, these policies offer other benefits. Some policies include annual health checkups and preventive screening to help identify medical conditions early.

However, before you decide on investing in a health policy it is important to understand the waiting period.

What is waiting period?

This is the time you need to wait before the ailments listed under the policy are covered. Your insurer will not settle any claims that you make during this period. Most insurers have a few years of waiting period for health insurance policies  that cover pre-existing conditions. These are defined as the medical conditions that you already suffer from at the time of purchasing the policy.

Types of waiting period

Almost every health insurance plan has this pre-determined period where you cannot file a claim. This period is classified under three categories as listed below.

Initial waiting period

If you fall sick or need hospitalization during this initial period, the insurance company will not provide any benefit under the health policy. The insurer will only cover medical and hospitalization expenses incurred due to accidental injuries during this period.

Pre-existing conditions waiting period

If you suffer from any medical condition before or at the time of availing the policy, treatment expenses for this will not be covered. This period may vary from a few months to several years depending on the type and severity of the pre-existing ailment.

Disease-specific waiting period

Hospitalization or medical expenditures arising due to pre-specified illnesses are not covered under a health plan. Generally, your insurance company will provide you with a list of such conditions that are not covered under the policy till the specific waiting period expires.

Can you change the health insurance waiting period?

Some insurance companies offer the option of reducing the waiting period by paying a higher premium. In addition, certain health plans for senior citizens are waived by including a co-pay clause in the policy document. Under this clause, the insured will need to pay some percentage of the expense and the insurer will provide the balance amount.

Insurers include this period before providing policy benefits to reduce their risks. Pre-existing conditions and severe medical conditions may require expensive treatments. It is possible that you may urgently need funds to treat a pre-existing disease and are looking for a no waiting period health insurance plan. However, such policies are often not available and your best bet is to find a plan with the lowest period for waiting.

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