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Senior Citizen Health Insurance: Trade carefully while buying a health insurance cover for senior citizens

Priyadarshini Maji
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Most people after retiring from their job, especially at the age of 60, start worrying about their health insurance as they realize that they no longer have the group health insurance cover that their company provided. And while opting for an insurance policy at that age, most people are worried as they are not sure if they will get one. Many believe that senior citizens with a health condition or two usually can't get a cover. But they can, even though it’s hard. Today a number of insurers offer health policies designed especially for senior citizens.

The normal health insurance policies have restrictions on entry age, which is set at 60 or 65. However, a senior citizens' policy allows entry even at an advanced age, which ranges from 65-74 or some even go up to 85 years of age.

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Unlike normal health insurance policies these policies, don't come cheap. With the age of a person, his/her probability of getting any disease increases, because of which the insurers charge a higher premium. At an older age, even the premium of people who entered a health policy at an early age also rises, but they are likely to be charged less than a person who enters at 60. Individuals who have entered early get the benefit of no-claim bonus also does not face the waiting period for pre-existing diseases.

However, even after a higher premium, it is better for senior citizens to buy a health policy. Experts suggest one should do a cost-benefit analysis. For instance, you might have to pay an extra of Rs 25,000 or Rs 30,000 as the premium, but the cost of funding a major treatment can sometimes be more expensive and can run into lakhs. People with a corpus is also better off buying a policy, because it is not ideal to spend most of your corpus in any major ailment, and then be left with very little to meet other expenses.

The salaried class people are mostly dependent on the corporate group cover that also covers the senior citizens, and often do not buy a cover for their elderly parents. However, these corporate covers usually do not exceed Rs 2 to 5 lakh and often prove to be inadequate.

Senior citizens should also not just at the first product that they are offered. They should instead compare the merits and demerits of the various offerings, and then evaluate them. While buying a senior citizens' policy, note that there is scope for enhancing the sum insured. Also, pay attention to the waiting period for pre-existing diseases. Generally, pre-existing disease range from 18 months to 4 years. Opt for a policy with a lower waiting period. Also, consider the co-payment requirement, the portion of the bill you have to pay, in the case of hospitalization, as these tend to be large in some policies. Generally, co-payment is 10 per cent, but some end up charging 30 per cent, which is rather stiff.

While applying for a policy, make full disclosure. If necessary, make a list of all the conditions you currently have, also what you had in the past and fill in all of them in the proposal form. Not making full disclosure is the biggest reason for claim rejection. Also, read the policy document carefully and understand its clauses.

In case your health insurance cover proposal gets rejected, you can try for other companies, as different insurers have different underwriting policies. Where one may reject you, one may be willing to accept that risk.