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  • Writer's pictureSojan-Thomas

The best gift you can give your parents

The best gift you can give your parents - Health Insurance

Parents provide everything to their children to the best of their abilities. Time & money, both. They never stop caring even after their children become adults, start working, get married, become parents. They put their priorities first before their own. One of the areas where parents ignore their own basic need is having adequate health insurance as they age. The awareness about this basic necessity is low among the elder generation. Even if they have health cover, it is probably peanuts. The health policy offered by employer ceases to exist after retirement. To hunt for a separate medical policy in old age is not the top most priority of many senior citizens. Besides, there are many who are unwilling to spend a huge amount on premiums. And, there are some who come out with lame excuses such as Am healthy and fit, have no critical illness, why buy health insurance?

Why spend so much in old age?

It is quite ironic that the older generation do not realise they might have to spend an even higher amount in the absence of health insurance if an illness strikes. Children, on the other hand, do not want their parents to feel constrained about financial resources but are not able to convince them to buy adequate health insurance.

How can you help your parents realise the benefits of health insurance?

Rising health risks in old age: It is obvious that with increase in age, there is a higher probability of the body suffering from any illness. Also, with weakening of bones, any occurrence of slippages or falls resulting in serious fractures among senior citizens are common. Knee replacement surgeries are common too and costs about Rs.7-8 lakh for both knees. Health insurance is thus a big necessity in old age. Buying a policy for your parents will help them tide over big hospitalisation expenses.

Rising health care inflation: Average life expectancy has increased with advanced medical science. Higher life expectancy would imply a greater requirement for money to take care of medical emergencies in old age. Then, there is rising health care inflation to deal with which on an average is rising by about 8-10% per annum on an average, as per media reports. Today, even a 24 hour hospitalisation can easily wipe out a minimum Rs.1 lakh from your savings. Your parents will have to dip into their retirement savings to pay for big medical expenses which they have so painstakingly built all their lives. Neither would they want to depend on you to handle medical emergencies. Adequate health insurance can thus take care of it.

What if parents are covered under your Employer cover?

While the group cover offered by your employer is a good supplement, it is unlikely to be sufficient for your parents and subject to conditions, not suitable to them. Moreover, if you change your job, the policy will terminate leaving your parents without health insurance for a temporary period. Not only are the continuity benefits lost, there is no guarantee that the new employer will cover your parents under a new policy. It may restrict coverage only to you, your spouse and children. So, it is prudent to buy a separate health cover for your parents.

Should you add your parents name to your independent family floater policy?

Your parents face a higher probability of hospitalisation risk than you or your spouse and children do. They are likely to use up considerable coverage leaving the younger members in the family with little or no cover. So, it is better to exclude your parents from the family floater policy and instead buy a separate cover for them.

Things to look out for while buying health insurance policy for parents:

Entry & Renewal Age: Many parents are under the impression that they cannot buy health insurance at an advanced age. However, some companies offer entry age between 60-80 years. Also, exclusive senior citizen health products are available in the market. Among these, there are some which offer lifelong renewal. So, shortlist a policy for your parents which offers entry at an advanced age and the longest coverage tenure.

Pre-existing illness: If your parents have a pre-existing ailment at the time of buying a health insurance cover, then the waiting period will come into effect. This implies that one cannot claim compensation in the event of a medical emergency till the waiting period is over. It normally ranges from 1-4 years and varies from company to company. Read about it in the fine print before buying a health insurance policy.

Exclusions: Health insurance policies contain a list of exclusions, i.e., medical conditions that are not covered for reimbursement by health insurance companies. There are permanent exclusions like AIDS, dental surgery, cosmetic surgery, maternity, etc., but the list varies from company to company. If your parents suffer a medical condition which is not covered in the policy, they will not be entitled for reimbursement of expenses. Make sure you understand the inclusions and exclusions properly before buying a health insurance product for your parents.

Policy Sub-limits:Enquire about sub-limits imposed by most insurers for various kinds of expenses on specific illnesses. This implies that the amount your parents can claim on these ailments is capped, irrespective of the amount of sum insured and they have to bear the balance expense. For instance, many health insurance companies have a cap on the room rent, i.e., they will pay an X amount and the balance expense will be borne by your parents.

Co-pay: Check about the co-payment clause which is usually applicable to senior citizens because of increased health risks in old age. Co-payment implies that the medical bill has to be borne in a pre-determined proportion by the insurer and the customer. So irrespective of the sum assured, your parents will have to borne a portion of the medical expenses as listed in the policy.

Educate and convince your parents about the benefits of buying a health insurance policy. Make them understand its value in old age. If they are healthy, it would be relatively easier to get a cover. Cover them before any serious illness strikes them. Unlike few years back, there is a profusion of senior citizen health insurance products in the market today. Take out the time to shortlist a policy suitable to your parents and communicate all the features to them as well. Assure them you will take care of the premiums every year and they need not worry about it.

 It is the best gift you can give your parents to secure their peaceful retirement!

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