The novel coronavirus is a threat looming on the world in the present situation. This disease is draining people not only physically and emotionally but also from a financial standpoint. If one decided to avail the treatment for COVID-19 in a private hospital in India, that person would have to shell lakhs of rupees. These include the cost of hospitalization, medicines, and ventilators to name a few. This is where health insurance is important. But buying a policy without knowing the exact coverage could be counterproductive. You should know which features to look for when you buy a COVID-19 specific health insurance policy. If you already have an existing health insurance policy, consider speaking to your insurer regarding the coverage for COVID-19.

What To Look For When Buying Covid-19 Health Insurance - Acko

Before getting into the features of a COVID-19 specific health insurance policy, let’s take a look at the following:

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the novel Coronavirus that affects the respiratory system of an individual. It was first observed in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. It is a highly contagious disease that spreads via tiny droplets of fluid expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

COVID-19 has infected thousands of people around the world. It affects the people of all age groups, however, it is rampant among people with pre-existing medical conditions. Usually, a person infected by Coronaviurus takes around 14 days to recover. After this period, he/she is quarantined for another 14 to 15 days, to reduce any chances of transmission.

Must-have Features of COVID-19 Health Insurance Plan:

You must check for the following list of features in your COVID-19 health insurance plan:

Hospitalization (In-patient Treatment):

A person diagnosed with COVID-19 requires immediate medical treatment and hospitalization. Thus, look for words like ‘Hospitalization’ or  ‘In-patient Treatment’ while buying a COVID-19 health insurance plan. The following items should be specifically mentioned under hospitalization: 

  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • Room Rent
  • Nursing
  • Medicines, drugs and consumables
  • Doctor visits
  • Anaesthesia, oxygen, blood, surgical appliances, operation theatre charges
  • Ventilator costs

It will also be beneficial if the costs of ‘Diagnostic procedures’ are included in your health insurance plan.

Quarantine Coverage (Post-Hospitalization):

As mentioned earlier, the patients recovered from COVID-19 require to remain in quarantine for at least 14 to 15 days. Thus, your health insurance plan should cover the cost of remaining in quarantine. This could amount to the cost of medicines, protective gear, etc. You will find the exact coverage under the Post-Hospitalization section of your policy wordings.

Daily Cash Benefits:

As the name suggests, a daily cash benefit allows you to avail a pre-decided amount of cash from your insurance company for a fixed number of days during hospitalization. This benefit can be very helpful for taking care of expenses like buying medicines or paying for the cost of protective gears like masks, gloves, etc. A cash benefit can also be helpful to a person accompanying the patient during hospitalization.

AYUSH Coverage:

AYUSH is a set of alternative treatments that consist of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy. Even Though optional, including AYUSH Coverage in your health insurance policy can prove to be an added advantage.

The Government of India is already emphasizing on the importance of alternative treatments for boosting immunity and taking preventive measures against coronavirus. Thus, consider buying a health insurance plan that covers AYUSH treatments.

Also, read: How To Boost Immunity To Fight Coronavirus Via Ayurveda

Tax Benefits:

Health insurance policies are usually covered under tax benefits. Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961 defines the possible ways in which you can claim a tax benefit for buying a health policy. Similarly, a plan that you would purchase to cover COVID-19 should also be eligible for a tax rebate. 

  • An individual can claim up to 25,000 rupees for buying a health insurance plan for themself.
  • 25,000 rupees can be claimed for the premium paid for buying a health insurance policy for a senior citizen parent
  • On availing preventive health check-up, one can claim Rs. 5,000.

These figures are as per the financial year 2020. They may change with the current year’s financial budget.

Value-added Benefits:

These are additional benefits that your health insurance company may offer. Having these in your plan is not mandatory, however, they facilitate extra services that can prove to be beneficial. For some, these value-added services can be a deal maker or breaker.

  1. Doctor on call: The policyholder can get in touch with a certified doctor in case he/she needs to. These could be a free consultation done via telephone or online means. A doctor can solve your queries over a simple call if you are worried about contracting a disease like COVID-19.
  2. Second opinion: If you are not satisfied with the opinions of your family physician, you can ask your health insurance company to arrange for a second opinion. This feature will ensure your peace of mind.
  3. Active customer support: Many of us are worried and confused when it comes to coronavirus and its effects. In this situation, speaking to an experienced representative of the insurer will provide much of a relief. 

Things I Should be Aware of About COVID-19 Health Insurance Plan:

COVID-19 is a new disease that is posing a threat to people’s health. Buying insurance specifically for this disease can be tricky as only a few health insurance products are available in the market. Insurers are providing pilot policies i.e. the COVID-19 health insurance policy is the first of its kind. Thus, it is important that you should be aware of what you are buying. Here are a few of these things:

  1. Buying multiple COVID-19 health insurance policies from different insurers is not fruitful. Claim against only one policy is allowed.
  2. Some insurers may offer a lump sum amount of money when you are diagnosed with COVID-19. Read the ‘Sum insured’ part of your policy to know more.
  3. COVID-19 health insurance policy is usually active for one year. Speak to your insurance company about renewals.
  4. COVID-19 health insurance plan covers one person and dependent children. You may have to buy separate policies for your spouse and parents.
  5. There could be a short waiting period on your policy. This is the time in which you cannot make a claim after buying the policy. The waiting period on COVID-19 insurance policies could range from 15 to 30 days.
  6. COVID-19 health insurance policy will not cover you for any other disease unless specified in your policy document.
  7. A free lookup period may be allowed on your COVID-19 policy. During the free lookup period, you can review the terms and conditions of the policy and decide if you wish to continue with the policy or not. If not, you will receive a refund as per the terms of the insurance company.

Also, read: Ways To Remain Healthy During Social Distancing

Importance of Buying Health Insurance:

Buying a health insurance policy is a financially beneficial move even in normal situations, i.e. even when the world is not facing a threat from the coronavirus. Here is why you should always be covered under a health insurance policy:

  • Safeguard your financial interest in case of a medical emergency
  • Avail tax benefits and save money 
  • Make use of value-added services
  • Avail cashless treatments from network hospitals
  • Get a No-Claim Bonus if you do not raise any claims in the previous year’s policy

There are various types of health insurance policies that you can buy. Always select a plan that is tailor-made to fit your requirements. Here are a few types of health insurance policies:

  • Individual Health Insurance
  • Family Health Insurance 
  • Senior Citizen Health insurance
  • Critical Illness cover
  • Maternity Insurance Plan
  • Accident Insurance

Buying a health insurance plan will help you protect your hard-earned money if a medical emergency arises. You don’t have to think about arranging money by draining your savings.

Frequently Asked Questions:

You may have some pressing questions about COVID-19 health insurance. Here are a few for your reference:

What are the documents required for claiming COVID-19 Health Insurance?

You may require the following documents while making a claim against your COVID-19 health insurance policy:

> Identification proof
> Address proof
> COVID-19 positive medical report
> Claim form

How much premium do I need to pay for buying a COVID-19 specific health insurance plan?

The premium for buying a COVID-19 specific health insurance plan can be around Rs. 150 – 1000. The cost of your policy depends upon the insurance company and the features of your policy.

What is the eligibility criteria for buying COVID-19 health insurance?

Depending upon the terms of your health insurance company, a person between the age of 18 to 65 will be eligible for buying the COVID-19 health insurance policy.

Do insurance policies cover the cost of the test for COVID-19?

The cost of testing if a person has contracted COVID-19 is around 4500 rupees at a private laboratory. Your insurance company will cover this cost only if it is exclusively mentioned in the policy wordings. It is free of cost in a government-certified lab.

What are the conditions under which my COVID-19 insurance policy will end in case it is not cancelled by me?

A health insurance policy will terminate in the following conditions: 

> Upon the death of the policyholder.
> When the insurer pays the pre-decided sum insured
> On the expiry date

Use the free look-up period to review your policy thoroughly.

References:

  • Coronavirus, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
  • Complete Healthcare Insurance, Universal Sompo General Insurance Company Limited, https://www.irdai.gov.in/ADMINCMS/cms/Uploadedfiles/UNIVERSAL15/COMPLETE%20HEALTHCARE%20INSURANCE.pdf
  • AYUSH Systems, Ministry of AYUSH, http://main.ayush.gov.in/

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