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Buying a new health insurance plan can be a complicated process, especially for someone who has never purchased any form of insurance in the past. Different health insurance policies offered by different companies have varying levels of coverage and a variety of features. Before buying any policy, you need to know your specific requirements and understand exactly what each plan offers. The best way to choose the right policy is to compare health insurance plans based on factors like premiums, coverage offered, inclusions/exclusions and claim settlement ratio, etc. As most insurance companies offer their services online, you can get all the necessary information about the insurance plans and their features.
Important Factors to Consider When Comparing Health Insurance
The below list will help you get a better understanding of the important components of health insurance:
- Sum Insured
Sum insured refers to the maximum amount of money that your health insurance provider will pay for an insurance claim. If your hospital bill exceeds the maximum sum insured, you will have to pay for the balance out of pocket. So when you compare health insurance plans, look for a policy that offers a higher sum insured at a competitive price. Even if the policy costs more, you should opt for a plan that has a higher sum insured so you are prepared for any kind of medical emergency, no matter the cost. You can also choose to buy top-up health insurance on top of your plan which allows you to get extended financial coverage.
- Inclusions and Exclusions
Inclusions refer to the diseases and medical conditions that are covered by the health insurance policy and exclusions are those diseases or medical conditions that are not covered by the health policy under any circumstances. Each health plan has its own list of inclusions and exclusions that you need to carefully research before finalising a policy. If you are predisposed to a certain medical condition or if some genetic illness runs in your family, make sure it is covered by the policy you choose.
- Waiting Period
The waiting period in health insurance refers to a time period of a few months or years where the insurer does not provide any coverage for pre-existing conditions. For e.g., if an insurance plan has a waiting period of 2 years and the policyholder has diabetes as a pre-existing condition at the time of buying the policy, the insurer will not provide any coverage for diabetes-related medical treatments for 2 years. If you are suffering from a pre-existing medical condition, try to go for a plan that has the lowest waiting period.
- Network Hospitals
Most health insurance providers offer the ‘network hospitals’ service in which you can visit a network hospital that is linked with your insurer and get medical treatment without paying out of pocket. The hospital directly settles the bills with your insurer. When choosing a health insurance plan, look for one that has the largest number of reputed hospitals in the network.
Many health insurance policies have a clause called co-pay, where you have to pay a small percentage of the hospital bills at your own expense and the insurance company pays for all remaining expenses. The level of co-pay differs between policies, so try to buy a policy that has a lower co-pay percentage or best of all, does not have a co-pay clause at all. However, choosing a higher co-pay can help bring down the cost of your insurance premiums.
- Insurance Company Reviews and Claim Settlement Ratio (CSR)
At the time of choosing an insurance plan, check out the claim settlement ratio of the insurer. The higher the CSR, the higher are the chances that your insurance claim will be approved. Moreover, read customer testimonials and reviews of insurance companies before buying so that you can find out which company offers the best service and then make an informed decision as a consumer on which insurance plan to buy.
Choosing the right plan requires a lot of research and time. Do not make a hasty decision or pick an inadequate plan just because the cost is lower. Keep all the above factors in mind while looking for insurance online. There are a variety of plans that all cater to different segments of the demographic, so choose a health insurance plan that fits your personal needs. As pricing is one of the most important factors to be considered while buying a health policy, you can also check out the health insurance premium calculators that many insurance companies offer on their websites to get an idea of the premiums beforehand.