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Health Insurance for your Parents

Looking for a health insurance policy for your parents? The perfect one? Here are some pointers when you search for that perfect health insurance policy for your parents.

Abhishek Kumar Singh

19 Jul 2008

Today's globalized world means that people can, and in many cases, have to wander far from home for better opportunities. Young people leave home to pursue their career aspirations. The dream to be big and reach the greatest heights means, for many, going to a bigger place on the map than their own home towns. As vital this migration is for the well-being of the individual as well as the economy as a whole, there is a vital point to be kept in mind.

In this race for career growth, too often we leave behind our parents who are now well past their first youth and in all fairness, expect the ease, serenity, and comfort that come from having done the right thing by their family. They are now alone, elderly and without their offspring's presence and support. And although financially you will more than provide for them, what about their health? What happens if there is a sudden health emergency? After all, they are getting on in years, and the body becomes easily susceptible to ailments and disease.

It becomes critical that you take a well-thought out health insurance plan for them. It will ensure that even though you aren't there, their medical needs are met without any strain on them, financially, physically, or emotionally.

Here are some pointers when you search for that perfect health insurance policy for your parents:

  • Term limits on health insurance policy: As your parents grow older it becomes difficult to get health insurance. When you are shopping for their health insurance, check with the insurers for the maximum entry age. That is, the maximum age at which the insurer will issue a new policy. All insurers have an upper age limit for issuing new health insurance policies. Insurers also have a limit on the renewal age i.e., after a certain age, insurers will not renew existing health insurance policies. This knowledge will help you decide the level of coverage you need to give your parents. It will also help you decide on an insurer - the insurer that gives the highest maximum age for renewal would be the obvious choice. Just one tip, though - be thorough in checking the health cover offered by the insurer; your parents should be covered comprehensively.

  • Pre-existing diseases cover and how long after continuous policy coverage do they kick in: Until very recently, insurance companies refused to cover diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. A recent ruling has changed all that - now insurance companies cannot deny cover to customers afflicted by such diseases/disorders. Instead, they can charge the customer a higher premium than normal. They also put a clause, where they state that expenses toward any existing diseases will be covered only after a set period, ranging from 6 months to 2 years, sometimes even more.
    So when you are shopping for health insurance for your parents, and they are already afflicted by a disease or disorder, you need to find out how soon the coverage for these diseases kick in, when they are under continuous cover.

  • Cashless facility: This facility means that you don't have to pay anything to the hospital at the time of admission or discharge. The hospital authority directly gets your bills paid by the insurance company. A couple of things to be kept in mind here are that firstly, the hospital or the nursing home should be a part of the network of the insurance company. The details are provided at the time you purchase the policy. And secondly, you should inform the hospital authorities at the time of admission that your parent's (or parents') cover includes the cashless facility.

  • Pre-mandatory medicals: Pre-mandatory medicals are the medical tests the insurer will insist upon for customers above a certain age, usually 45. They cover the customer only if the results satisfy their specific conditions list. Before opting for a particular insurance company, ask if they insist on these medicals and if yes then what these tests are.

  • Cost of pre-mandatory medicals: You also need to find out if the cost of these pre-mandatory medicals is borne by the insurance company or by you. Many insurance companies bear the cost of these tests. There are some that reimburse the cost of the tests. And then there are some that just don't pay the cost of the medicals. The choice here is clear.

Emergencies are bound to be emotionally exhausting for your parents; there is no need to add on the additional financial burden on them.

Imagine this:

You get a phone call from your dad, who starts off by saying that your mother is not keeping especially well. And just at the moment when you are thinking about the worst that can happen, daddy reassures you saying that their health insurance - that you provided for them - covers them adequately. And that everything is being taken care of without any glitches. Would it be fair to say that, along with a huge feeling of relief, you would feel genuinely proud of the fact that you have done your best in ensuring the best for your parents?