Health insurance is an essential part of financial planning for retirement years. Hence, your plan must cover all future situations and costs. Suppose you want to avail yourself of medical treatment abroad. In that case, an insurance policy with global coverage can come in handy.
On the other hand, a base plan with critical illness coverage can benefit those who also want it to be affordable. Today’s exorbitant treatment costs can burn a hole in your pocket, so a health policy is vital. If it is a global plan, it should cover treatment costs, travel, accommodation, and doctors’ fees abroad, among other things, to ensure you get the proper treatment at the right time.
Most health insurers in India generally do not offer global coverage. However, customers should ask them about the products available or what they can offer.
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When Should You Take A Global Cover?
Dr Santosh Puri, Senior Vice President of Health Product & Process at TATA AIG General Insurance Limited, says, “Choosing a policy with domestic and global coverage can enable access to a high level of expertise in case of critical illnesses or advanced treatments.”
Indian insurers usually provide people overseas cover in a travel policy when they travel abroad.
Apaar Kasliwal, Executive Director at PolicyBoss.com, explains that travel insurance policies provide overseas medical coverage, which is built into the policy. However, for global coverage under a health insurance policy, he says, “You have to take an add-on, or the policy itself is different in many cases.” Nevertheless, he adds, “It’s important to understand why you are going for global medical coverage in the first place.”
“Today, you have the best medical facilities in India; all sorts of treatment can happen. Only in rare cases, where you need any experimental treatment in a specific hospital abroad, or in case of critical illness or complex surgery, you will need global cover,” says Kasliwal.
Even the Tier II towns, he says, are well-equipped in medical services, besides the state capitals and large cities. “Though health inflation has increased, you can still get treatment,” he adds. He stresses that one would only require global coverage to treat critical illnesses.
Regarding cashless and reimbursement facilities, Puri says it’s up to the customer what they want, but the “Exchange rates are based on the invoice date for overseas treatments”.
Some Indian insurers offer specific global coverage, while others provide add-ons for treatments. When faced with these options, one should carefully consider their requirements.
Kasliwal suggests a comprehensive domestic plan combining critical illness benefits with a higher cover. “If you take Rs 10-50 lakh cover, the premium increase is marginal. It doesn’t increase by five times,” says he, adding, “Under the critical illness cover, you get the money upon diagnosis, and you can decide to spend it in India or abroad.”
According to Kasliwal, “India has great healthcare facilities; only in case of critical illnesses, you might have to go abroad. It will be easier on the pocket than taking a full-fledged global cover.”
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What Should You Consider Before Buying A Policy?
Customers looking for global coverage should consider a few aspects. For instance, the product should not have a co-payment rule for international treatments and offer coverage for all illnesses and treatments, i.e. they do not have an ailment or treatment-wise sub-limit. One must also take note of the waiting period specific to global cover, if any, says Puri. He also says the insurer’s presence and brand image should be considered before buying health insurance.
In conclusion, a base policy with a critical benefit cover will be easy on the pocket while choosing a health coverage. Also, check the co-payment clause, sub-limits, exclusions, hospital network, all allied expenses, such as doctor consultations, medical tests, etc., and most importantly, where there is a cashless settlement facility.
Although a global cover can offer you more options for treatment, it is crucial to evaluate your requirements and choose the option that best suits your needs. A delicate balance between the premium and the coverage you receive is the way to sustain the policy over the long term.
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