Compare & Buy Health Insurance Online in India
It’s true – one can buy health insurance anywhere, online with a few clicks or offline through an agent. You can also buy the policies directly from the insurance company or even through your banking channel. The choices, too, are many. There are over 35 insurance companies that offer scores of different types of health insurance plans and policies catering to general and also very specific healthcare needs of customers.
If you’re looking for a health insurance plan, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the many choices and a flood of information. The problem is; many insurance plans look the same, promise the same features, and benefits. So what sets them apart? And how does one find the best health insurance plan that meets their requirement?
The answer: health insurance comparison. It is essential to consider key factors important for your healthcare needs before you zero-in on plans that ensure a safe buy.
Here’s what you do: make a selection of a few or all the plans that you want to explore. Now, compare these health plans for the following factors.
- Compare coverage
- Compare flexibility
- Compare network hospitals
- Compare out-of-pocket costs
- Compare renewability and age limits
- Compare claim settlement ratio
- Use online premium calculators to compare costs
When buying a health insurance plan, bring the coverage components under the microscope. The kind of coverage a plan offers would determine how helpful the plan can be to your family members and you.
The wider the range of coverage, the better it is. Scrutinize these factors:
- Illnesses and medical problems covered
- Pre-existing diseases covered and the waiting period
- Option for coverage for critical illness (usually it’s an add-on)
- Pre and post hospitalization cover
- Maternity benefits (usually it has a sub-limit)
- The number of day care procedures
- Ambulance and room rent limits and its sub-limits
When it comes to health insurance, you need to be cautious about two things; ambiguity and rigidity. Uncertainty of whether or not the plan you’ve chosen would benefit you when you need it can leave you always worried even when you have an insurance plan. The inflexibility of an insurance policy may lead you to a roadblock and at times make your policy useless. Always check for these flexibility features:
- Does the plan allow you to add a new family member?
- Does the plan allow portability?
- Does the plan allow add-on features for critical illness, maternity cover, etc?
- Does the plan allow you to increase or decrease the sum insured if you’d need to?
- Is there a top-up facility that is built into the plan?
Compare network hospitals
Network hospitals are those that are tied-up with the insurance company. Going to in-network hospitals associated with the insurer can ensure quality medical treatments and best doctors. Moreover, network hospitals provide cashless facilities, which are incredibly helpful to policyholders, as they do not need to worry about huge financial payouts to the hospital in the event of an emergency. The costs of treatments might be comparatively lower. It is always better to choose plans that have large network hospitals so that you can have a wider choice.
Compare out-of-pocket costs
Any insurance plan’s summary should clearly state the costs involved, what the policy would cover, and more importantly what it will not cover. It is essential to understand if there could be any out-of-pocket costs involved during hospitalization.
E.g. typically, insurers have a limit on room rent and ambulance costs. They also have a sub-limit on maternity coverage. They do not cover cosmetic treatments or wellness needs related to medical treatments. In these cases, if the cost were higher than the sum insured, the policyholders would have to shell out money from their own pockets. This could lead to financial stress, and at times burgeoning debt problems.
This is why words such as co-payment, sub-limit, co-insurance, deductibles and exclusions are important to note in the health insurance policy document. That is the fine print that you must focus on before signing on the dotted line of the policy document.
Here’s how you can narrow down your insurance plan selection based on extra costs:
Go for health insurance offers with a higher sum insured and wider coverage with a higher premium if:
- You frequently need to visit doctors
- You are prone to lifestyle diseases
- You have a health condition that may need emergency care
- You require expensive treatments and medicines
- You have a critical illness insurance requirement
Go for an insurance plan that has higher out-of-pocket costs and a lower monthly premium if:
- You are on a budget and cannot afford an expensive plan
- You are in good health and live a healthy lifestyle
- You may not need to visit doctors often
Compare renewability and age limits
Healthcare needs increase with age. Younger policyholders may not need to use the insurance plans. However, with age, the insurance needs may be much higher.
This brings us to the age limit and renewability element of the health insurance plan. A plan with a shorter upper age limit would turn out to be expensive or even a waste of money.
E.g. Suresh bought a health insurance plan at the age of 28 years. He kept renewing his policy every year until the age of 45 years. It is then that he realized his policy was going to expire and be redundant for him because he wouldn’t be able to renew it further. Now Suresh would have to buy a new policy – think inflation, a higher premium based on his age and health conditions if any. The new policy would turn out to be a huge cost for him.
Plans that offer lifetime renewability options are the best plans to choose from. Compare plans for these factors and discard the ones that have shorter renewability.
Compare claim settlement ratio
Claim settlement ratio is the ratio of claims settled to claims made with an insurance company. It is a common metric that is used to rate insurance companies, which makes it one of the key parameters for customers to choose insurers. Here’s why it’s important to compare the claim settlement ratios of different insurance companies:
- It reveals the insurance companies’ history and ability to settle claims
- Knowing that a particular company shows a good ratio can build confidence and is an assurance to a certain degree
- A good claim settlement ratio can relieve customers of worries and gives them a certain comfort level
- Typically, an 80% to 90% ratio is considered good. It reflects an efficient insurance company that demonstrates reliability.
Use online premium calculators to compare costs
Although health insurance agents help customers in calculating the tentative insurance premium, numerous insurance companies provide online insurance premium calculators for the ease of the customer. There are numerous benefits of online insurance premium calculators:
- An insurance customer can calculate the premium amount online and then start looking for a suitable insurance policy, instead of diving into it without any tentative budget. This would help save time and effort.
- Insurance premium calculators allow customers various permutations and combinations and adjustments, with the help of which, customers can figure out the most beneficial combinations for them.
By now, you should have sifted through plans and removed the following:
- Plans with limited coverage
- Plans that do not provide flexibility
- Plans with a smaller network of hospitals
- Plans that reveal hidden costs and out-of-pocket expenses
- Plans that have a limit to the renewability age
- Insurance companies with a poor claim settlement ratio
Over to you
The plans that you’re now left with are the ones considering and exploring further. Now all you need to do is calculate the numbers – premium, sum insured requirement, etc. You can do this with the help of online insurance premium calculators and online aggregators. Or you could simply take the help of an insurance agent.
FAQs: Compare Health Insurance
What factors should one compare when buying health insurance?
Among the many factors to compare when buying a health insurance plan are:
Claim settlement ratio
Renewability and age limit
Room rent and ambulance cost limits
Are there any tips to follow to choose a good health insurance plan?
Yes, you could follow these tips to choose a good health insurance plan:
Compare different types of health insurance plans – personal, family floater, critical health insurance plans, senior citizen plans, and women’s health insurance plans, among others.
Look for the benefits provided in each type of health insurance plan
Compare the network of hospitals of each plan
Eliminate plans that do not have a wider coverage
Eliminate plans that are out of your budget
Choose plans that provide flexibility – add-ons for critical illnesses, maternity coverage, increase and decrease of sum insured, portability, etc