How to prepare your health insurance policy compatible with Omicron

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The world is once again accepting another variant of COVID – heavily mutated and considered highly transmissible this time around. As the virus reappears, from travel guidelines to vaccine effectiveness, all safety measures are being reassessed again. While things may be back to normal, it’s time to let our guard down for now. Even as we prepare to battle Omicron and its aftermath, remember to strengthen your most important security shield against it: your health insurance. The catastrophic second wave taught us some hard lessons and now it is up to us to measure and minimize the consequences this time around.

Recent times have caused a tectonic shift in the health insurance landscape. Although awareness and demand for health insurance has increased dramatically after the outbreak, having insurance is not enough. Now may be the best time to reevaluate your health insurance. Shortly after the outbreak, all health insurers began offering coverage for COVID-related hospitalizations, but it is advisable to check whether your current health insurance will be sufficient to protect you.

Here’s how you can make your health insurance policy more comprehensive to protect you and your loved ones against the Omicron variant.

Choose a comprehensive policy to cover illnesses caused by COVID

At first glance, it may seem like you need to protect yourself against COVID-19 and its variants. However, the past two years have taught us to walk with caution. COVID is giving way to other diseases like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, among others.

Usually, a person is susceptible to developing these lifestyle-related diseases later in life. Unfortunately, if you contract COVID, you become more prone to these diseases at any time, even after your recovery. The latest results from the National Family Health Survey also reveal that Indians have become more obese, hypertensive and have a higher risk of developing diabetes compared to 2015-2016.

Apart from this, you also need to protect yourself from other complications such as black fungus. The resulting consequences can be serious and may even require hospitalization. As more details about Omicron are leaked, you should stay protected against a range of conditions under COVID by opting for comprehensive health coverage.

Opt for a higher sum insured to remain covered in the event of hospitalization

Just as you need a plan that covers the majority of illnesses, you also need to consider the surge in medical inflation year after year. The second wave is always a terrible reminder of the importance of staying prepared in advance. Medical bills during this period reached Rs 85 lakh to Rs 1 crore. If you have insufficient sum insured, you will end up paying the remaining amount. Especially in metropolitan cities, these expenses can significantly reduce your savings.

If you renew your contract, you can choose a higher sum insured. However, if your renewal is not due in the near future, you can always purchase a Super Top-up for your policy. For example, if you have an existing policy of Rs 10 lakh, you can get a super top-up of Rs 90 lakh and the total cover will be Rs 1 crore. Niva Bupa’s Health Recharge plan offers a super supplement of Rs 90 lakh on a deductible amount of Rs 10 lakh for an annual premium of Rs 898, subject to terms and conditions.

Include home treatment fee and other additional fees

Home treatment consists of treating the patient at home even when he has to be hospitalized. There are two reasons for this: either because of the unavailability of hospital rooms, or because of the comorbid or critical condition of the patient certified by a doctor. Not so long ago, a large number of COVID patients struggled to find a hospital bed and needed treatment at home. Additionally, guidelines have been prescribed regarding home isolation and treatment of COVID patients. At a time when the return of the fear of COVID seems very likely with this variant, it makes sense to include home care support.

Other additional costs you need to consider are medical consultations, checkups, tests, use of medical aid items, OPD and ambulance costs, etc. Make sure these costs are covered by your policy.

Pay attention to claims settlement

The settlement of claims is the moment of truth for both the insurer and the insured. It is when the claim is settled that the policy really works. Be sure to check the claims payout ratio before finalizing your insurer. Typically, a ratio above 95% is considered ideal. Also, check for any terms, conditions, or fine print that might hinder the processing of your request later.

Add appropriate runners

Riders are additional benefits that you can add to your policy at an additional cost to your premium. Some of these popular runners may come in handy during this time of COVID. For example, consumables make up about 20% of COVID hospital bills, but many comprehensive plans don’t cover them by default. Consumables are medical aid items that are discarded after a single use, such as syringes, PPE kits, masks, gloves, etc. Adding a jumper such as Care Shield or Niva Bupa Safeguard allows coverage to be added at very minimal cost. Similarly, critical illness coverage helps you pay your bills for serious illnesses that may arise from COVID, such as heart attack, kidney failure, etc. Few other riders like Hospital Allowance or Inflation Protection Rider can also come in handy during these times. . Remember to check with your insurer for appropriate endorsements.

While the Omicron variant is still being researched and new information emerges every day, it is wise to make an informed decision by learning from the past.

(By Amit Chhabra, Director of Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com)

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