As the pandemic spreads at a fast rate across the globe, many people are looking to buy a medical insurance policy that can help them manage the costs of the treatment of COVID-19. In India, the average cost of treatment if the patient does not require ventilator support is ₹2 lakhs – ₹5 lakhs and with ventilator support, ₹10 lakhs – ₹13 lakhs. Also, with businesses shut due to extended lockdowns, most people are experiencing a drop in their income levels. Hence, medical insurance seems to be the best option to manage costs in the unfortunate event of catching the virus.
general health insurance vs coronavirus insurance cover
There are two options available to people looking for an insurance cover for COVID-19:
- A regular insurance policy that also covers coronavirus among other diseases
- An exclusive coronavirus health insurance policy
General Health Insurance with cover for coronavirus
General health insurance policies offer a range of benefits to policyholders, including:
- Pre and Post-hospitalization expenses
- In-patient treatment costs
- Domiciliary treatment
- Daycare procedures where hospitalization is not needed
- AYUSH expenses (Ayurveda, Unani, Sidha, and Homeopathy)
- Ambulance costs
- Regular health checkup expenses
- Bariatric surgery costs
- In-patient dental treatment costs
- Critical illnesses, etc.
Insurance companies have a list of diseases that are covered under the policy. To help people manage the treatment costs, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) mandated all insurance companies to include COVID-19 in the list of diseases covered by them. Hence, general insurance policies also offer cover for coronavirus. However, the features and benefits of the cover are similar to those offered for other diseases.
Coronavirus insurance cover
Major insurers like Tata AIG offer a disease-specific plan for COVID-19. These are fixed benefit covers that offer a lump sum if the policyholder is diagnosed with the disease. These plans have a lower sum insured and hence low premium rates. Typically, the sum insured varied from ₹20000 to ₹2 lakh. Also, these plans have features specific to COVID-19, like coverage for quarantine, cash provision per day, no pre-medical checkups, etc. The waiting period for these policies is around 16 days.
However, if the policyholder is not hospitalized, then the insurer is not liable to make any payment under this policy. Also, it does not cover any other diseases or ailments.
Which one should you opt for?
If you already have a basic health insurance policy, then you do not need a disease-specific coronavirus cover. This is because the insurer will cover the costs of hospitalization and treatment of COVID-19. However, if you don’t have any health insurance policy and are facing a cash crunch, then opting for coronavirus insurance makes sense. Usually, the annual premium for these policies is less than ₹1000 for a lump sum payment of ₹20000-40000. Hence, it can act as a good temporary cover to manage costs against a disease that is spreading at an alarming rate.
Additionally, since the coronavirus cover offers a lump sum amount, you can use it as needed. However, the amount will not suffice if the policyholder opts for treatment at a private hospital where a non-ventilator support treatment can cost up to ₹6 lakhs. In such cases, a general insurance cover with a higher sum insured is more beneficial.
A comparison between the two tells us that a general health insurance plan can be more beneficial than a coronavirus cover. Unless you don’t have a health insurance policy and are running low on funds, the disease-specific plan might not offer sufficient protection against the costs associated with the treatment and hospitalization for COVID-19. Many people who already have a general health insurance plan are also buying the disease-specific health insurance for coronavirus to widen their safety net.
Disease-specific insurance plans can offer various benefits but are no substitute for a general health insurance policy. While the world is focused on the novel coronavirus, other diseases and ailments are also lurking around. Hence, you must ensure that you choose the insurance plan carefully.
Remember, health insurance is designed to help you manage medical costs in case of an emergency. While you might be taking all precautions to keep yourself safe, with a virus that is spreading fast, it is prudent to prepare yourself for the worst while hoping for the best. Hence, an insurance policy that can help you overcome costs in the unfortunate event of getting infected should be your priority while fighting this pandemic. Also, ensure that you get your family covered and look for plans that offer the best benefit at the most affordable premium rates.
Unless the medical experts don’t come out with a vaccine that can stop the spread, we need to do all that we can to keep ourselves safe and protected while being ready to fight the worst.