Women should take the lead in buying health insurance policies early on in life and can then choose to add their spouse once they get married.
How important is to for women to have adequate health insurance cover?
Women face a number of unique risks such as gender-related illnesses, care giving responsibilities, ageing (longevity), greater healthcare costs etc. Women bear higher risk of cervical and breast cancer. While medical advancements have made these illnesses less severe, the financial drain of fighting these diseases is sufficient to wipe out a lifetime of savings of entire family. Hence it is advisable that women pay special attention to their health at all times, and proactively invest in healthcare financing instruments. Health insurance is undeniably the best healthcare financing tool.
A survey conducted by Apollo Munich Health Insurance in collaboration with Nielsen India Pvt. Ltd. In 19 cities found that despite a rise in health insurance claims filed by women, few women are coming forward to buy health insurance. Given the low awareness for the need of a health cover, the number of women opting for products that are tailored for them, has significantly gone down.
The need of the hour today is to increase penetration of health insurance among women and provide specialized incentives for them to purchase policies to cover their healthcare needs specifically. While some insurers are offering specialized covers, women should consider taking up at least a basic individual sum insured health insurance policy of Rs 5 lakhs to cover the gender neutral ailments such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiac conditions, etc
Do health insurance needs for women change in different life-stages?
Women should take the lead in buying health insurance policies early on in life and can then choose to add their spouse once they get married. If one’s husband already owns an individual plan, a woman can choose to continue with her own plan, in order to enjoy continuous benefits.
For example, women in their 20s should purchase a basic indemnity health insurance policy that covers oneself, when she starts her career. For women in their 30s, individual policies are ideal, and in cases where she has children younger than 12 years, a policy of Rs 5 -7.5 lakhs is ideal to ensure coverage for all medical expenses. Women in their 40s and 50s must consider buying a critical illness policy if she is genetically susceptible to ailments such as diabetes and heart conditions. A critical illness policy is a good add-on policy to one’s indemnity health insurance policy, as it provides a lump-sum amount for treatment of pre-determined ailments/diseases.
What are the things women should keep in mind while buying health cover?
While buying health insurance policies, women must comprehend the features, benefits and exclusions and determine which policy is most suitable for them.
Women should consider opting for additional covers such as critical illness that are now offered along with standard health insurance plans, as these riders offer additional coverage for heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, organ transplant or paralysis. In case any of these ailments are genetic, then a woman can benefit from these riders over and above her existing health insurance policy.
With the rising number of Indians being diagnosed with lifestyle diseases, women are most susceptible to ailments such as diabetes, obesity, cardiac conditions, long-term gynecological conditions, cancer, etc. Hence it is essential that a woman choose a personal health insurance policy for herself, as an add-on cover to what her spouse may already have from his employer.
While there are women-specific policies in the marketplace, the ailments/diseases that require health insurance coverage are not always gender-specific and are covered by most health insurance policies. Hence, women must focus their decision on what kind of health insurance policy they need, rather than paying for medical expenses through personal means.
Lifestyle ailments that are prevalent today, are largely gender neutral, and hence it is imperative that women seek health insurance coverage for themselves. With more women becoming economically independent today and leading longer lives, women should consider individual health insurance policies and critical illness riders, etc., and not depend only on the spouse’s cover to mitigate their healthcare expenses.