How to Protect Yourself from Critical Illnesses [Expert Interview]
Treatment for critical illnesses like Alzheimer’s, renal failure, cancers, stroke and paralysis, amongst many others, involve heavy expenses. In this scenario, one must be prepared with a good health insurance plan that covers such critical illnesses.
To help us understand health insurance cover for critical illnesses better, we asked Mr. Deepak Yohannan – CEO of MyInsuranceClub, and Mr. Yateesh Srivastava - Chief Marketing Officer AEGON Religare, some questions. Here is there expert take on what one must do to plan a future that is safe from such high treatment costs.
Do most health insurance plans cover critical illnesses like Alzheimer's, Kidney failure, Stroke, and Cancer?
Mr. Deepak Yohannan: Most comprehensive plans cover treatment for these diseases. However, most plans would not include the coverage if they are caused due to alchohol/smoking related reasons. Also if it is a pre-existing condition, then there might be a waiting period before such illnesses can be covered as part of the plan. The waiting period typically is 2 to 4 years from the time of first taking the policy and if renewal has been done on time.
Mr. Yateesh Srivastava: The sheer variety of health policies, valuable with different levels of coverage and exclusions, makes it very confusing for the customer. At the time of buying a policy, a customer will have to check for specific exclusions. However, in most cases, if the critical illness is not a pre-existing disease, it will be covered by both, indemnity as well as fixed-benefit health plans.
If not, then how does one get coverage for these serious illnesses?
Mr. Deepak Yohannan: If your plan specifically does not cover these or even otherwise, there are "Critical Illness Plans" which are specially meant to cover a list of serious illnesses - cancer/stroke/paralysis/organ transplant to name a few. These offer high covers at reasonable premiums as only a specified list of critical illnesses are covered.
Mr. Yateesh Srivastava: As I said earlier, a majority of health plans will cover these illnesses in case of occurrence, post purchase of the policy. However, since a number of these diseases are extremely expensive to treat, one should look to add further protection through a Critical Illness Rider. Riders will cover various types of critical illnesses such as Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer, Stroke, Kidney failure etc.
As India's numbers for such illnesses increase year after year, do you think it is important to account for such grave eventualities?
Mr. Deepak Yohannan: I would seriously recommend that customers check their policy documents and see if any of these illnesses are part of the "exclusions". If they are, they should immediately shift to a better plan or complement the existing plan with a "Critical Illness Plan". These plans are available with most general insurance companies.
Mr. Yateesh Srivastava: Absolutely! The cost of treatment and care for these treatments can often lead to financial ruin and bankruptcy. People often have to sell personal assets such as jewellery, vehicles and sometimes even houses to keep up with medical expenses in these cases.