As India enters the next phase of the lockdown with the morning address of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, NRIs are hit with the echoing question “Is it the right time to take COVID-19 Medical Cover for their parents in India?
Before we answer that, we need to understand how the policy game is going on in India and what apex bodies such as The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is doing to tackle the situation in the country.
What is IRDAI doing?
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has stepped up to guide the policy issuers in India and has mandated all general and health insurance companies to offer a standard product “Aarogya Sanjeevani Policy” from 1st April 2020 with the maximum cap of Rs. 5 Lakhs. The policy is offered by around 29 insurers with individual premium starting at Rs. 5,000/-. Although, different policy providers can offer different premium rates depending on their own assessments.
This Aarogya Sanjeevani Policy was introduced with the vision to bring the maximum number of people under the health insurance umbrella as over 55% of people in India still don’t have health coverage.
As, IRDAI is on the move to bring more people under the coverage, we must address the question of the hour, given the present situation, which is..
Is COVID-19 covered under the general health policies such as Aarogya Sanjeevani?
On 4th March 2020, IRDAI rolled out a circular that said all health insurance policies will cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19 which means that The Aarogya Sanjeevani Policy also covers the COVID-19 hospitalization and treatment costs and can be bought directly from insurance companies.
Having said that, a substantial doubt still remains about the charges associated with the testing of COVID-19? So..
Are there any charges for COVID-19 testing?
No. The Supreme Court of India has ordered all the private labs to not charge any fee for the testing of COVID-19. Also, the testing is free at government centres across the country. So testing is not the pain, the cost of treatment is.
Since most of the general health insurance policies cover the COVID-19 treatment costs, there can be differences in these costs as the government has allowed private hospitals to treat Corona Cases. It’s not a very rare notion that treatment costs vary exponentially when we shift from a government hospital to private hospitals in India. So, this brings us to a very significant doubt..
Is the maximum sum assured under Aarogya Sanjeevani Policy enough?
The maximum sum assured under the policy is Rs. 5 Lakhs. Is it enough? Treatment costs for COVID-19 cases might range from Rs.50,000 to Rs. 6 Lakhs on an average or even more depending on how critical the patient is, the associated treatment costs and the hospital chosen for treatment. According to Nayan C Shah, managing director, Paramount Health Services (TPA), the cost of treatment would be lower if the patient gets admitted in a secondary care hospital versus a lavish private hospital in one of the metros. “In general, for someone living in metro a ₹5 lakh cover is quite less, especially if it’s a family floater plan,” Shah added.
With a cap that can not assure complete treatment as it is open to risks when considering the overall treatment cost, we are once again stuck at the question..
NRIs? Are COVID-19 specific policies right for your parents at this time?
Answering this question is pretty simple. To understand how these COVID-19 policies operate. Let’s consider the Star Novel (nCoV) (COVID-19) Insurance Policy as an example:
- Any person aged between (18-65)
- Policy issued on individual insured sum basis
- Dependent children can be covered (3 months to 25 years) along with any one of the parent
- One policy per insured person
Policy Term: 1 year
Sum Insured: Rs. 21,000/- and Rs. 42,000/-
Premium: Rs. 459/- + GST and Rs. 918/- + GST
Waiting Period: 16 days (The amount of time an insured must wait before some or all of their coverage comes into effect)
- No other disease, illness or sickness will be covered under the policy.
- No payments will be made if there is no hospitalization irrespective of quarantine.
- No payments will be made if the individual contacts the disease before commencement date of the policy or during the waiting period.
Now, even if we don’t get into the intricacies of the policy, a general overview paints an image of a restricted approach. A very critical aspect to consider here is what to choose and how to move ahead which will be discussed in the next segment.
What to opt for?
It’s a very positive sight that the COVID-19 specific insurance covers are being offered on every platform right now from mobile apps like Paytm and PhonePe to providers such as BhartiAxa and HDFC Ergo who have integrated the COVID-19 cover in their general health policies by the mandate of IRDAI. But is a COVID-19 specific Health Insurance the right choice? After considering the various aspects of such policies, we will now try to answer this question for you.
The Answer: So NRIs, It wouldn’t harm if you opt for a COVID-19 specific health insurance policy for your parents. It will be beneficial if your parents fall between the (50-65 years) age range. Such COVID-19 specific policies generally have an age threshold. For example, Star Novel Insurance Policy has an age bar of 18-65 years.
So, it’s suitable if your parents are in the right age range as such policies collapse within a year. Adding to that, such policies will help you in the initial treatment costs and might even provide major relief if you get your parents admitted at the initial stages by covering around 50-60% of the total treatment costs. So it’s better to be safe than sorry!
You can opt for COVID-19 Health Insurance at SBNRI as well, by clicking here.
Although, we would like to suggest that if you are looking for a health cover for your parents, you might want to envision a long term policy. For NRIs with parents above 65 years of age, such specific policies won’t work much efficiently.
Considering such specific health insurance policies, Mahavir Chopra, a health insurance expert, suggests if you’re buying a health insurance policy, don’t restrict the cover to ₹5 lakh. “You must look at health insurance with a long-term perspective. The pandemic should trigger you to buy health insurance not just to protect you against covid-19 but all future health emergencies. Hence, a ₹5 lakh cover wouldn’t help 10-15 years from now considering the medical inflation,” said Chopra.
In conclusion, SBNRI wishes that your parents remain safe from the shadows of this pandemic and would recommend our NRI friends to opt for health insurance for themselves and their parents in India depending on their age, and medical requirements in the future. Remember, having a health cover is always a wise choice. So if you haven’t got it yet, Get one now!
For any further queries, you can contact us using the button below and we will make sure to resolve them. Stay Safe!