The World Health Organization marks April 7 as World Health Day. The WHO’s primary goal is to achieve universal health coverage for all anybody, regardless of their age, income, or pre-existing health condition, should be able to avail medical treatment and hospitalization without financial difficulties.
While universal health coverage exists in some countries, in India, it remains a pipe dream. With the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the poorest 10 crore families in India now have a coverage of Rs 5 lakh per annum. This is a good start. However, anybody not eligible to receive benefits under this scheme must seek their own coverage.
Healthcare inflation in India is steep. In 2018, it rose at double the inflation rate. Hospitalization, or treatment of a critical illness such as cancer, may be required by any person at any moment. The costs of such treatments can easily run into lakhs of rupees, and deplete a family’s savings. This is why every member of a family needs insurance. Let’s take a quick look at some must-have insurance products.
In any health emergency, your health insurance policy is your first line of defence. Which is why it’s important to be adequately insured. While there’s now a law mandating the purchase of health insurance, I would say paying for health coverage is as important as paying your rent. Unfortunately, in India, the health insurance penetration is abysmal. As per a National Family Health Survey in 2018, only 29 percent households had at least one member covered by a health scheme. Only 20 percent women and 23% men between the ages of 15-49 were covered.
A single hospitalisation could wreak havoc on the finances of the other 71% households. Health insurance is affordable. If you’re a 30-year-old looking for a cover of Rs 5 lakh, you can get one for annual premiums starting around Rs 5800. Beyond basic coverage, a health policy can also cover pre- and post-hospitalization expenses, daycare treatment, maternity expenses, and annual health check-ups. You could also cover your entire family under a single, family floater cover or a group insurance cover.
The key is to get one while you are young. The older you are without health coverage, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to buy a policy. Your base coverage can also be exponentially expanded with the addition of a top-up or super top-up policy. For a few thousand rupees, your base cover of Rs5 lakh can potentially become a Rs 20-30 lakh cover with a top-up.