As India continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more patients are filling hospital beds and many are reeling from the exhorbitant medical bills, wiping away their entire lifetime savings.
Needless to say, a comprehensive COVID-19 health insurance policy is becoming a necessity these days and not a choice. To address the specific COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government had launched two different types of insurance plans according to Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) guidelines -Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak.
The terms of the policies remain the same in all general and health insurance companies in India. Both these offer more coverage as compared to a regular health insurance policy. Most of these COVID-19 health insurance plans have a standard waiting period of 15 days.
Health insurance is covered from the day the insured gets diagnosed with the disease. This is due to the fact that COVID-19 is a new disease and hence does not come under the category of pre-existing illness. Most of the COVID-19 policies cover Co-morbidities arising due to the illness as well as Home Care treatment. Some of them even cover vaccination charges for up to 2 doses for each insured member over 60 years.
Interestingly, many COVID-19 insurance policies also cover treatment under other alternative medicine systems like Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Siddha, Yoga, Unani and Homeopathy if used. IRDAI has also mandated that all insurance companies should offer a 5 per cent discount to doctors and healthcare workers.
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Cover for Corona
The Corona Kavach policy is a standard coronavirus health insurance policy that covers hospital expenses, the cost of home care, ambulance costs, the cost of PPE equipment, medication, gloves, masks, doctor's fees, and intensive care costs incurred during treatment for COVID-19. The sum insured starts from 50,000 rupees and goes up to 5 lakh rupees. It can be bought by paying a single premium 3.5 months, 6.5 months and 9.5 months.
Corona Rakshak offers a fixed lumpsum, unlike Corona Kavach. Hospitalisation has to be for a minimum of 72 hours after being diagnosed positive for COVID-19. The policy covers expenses related to PPE, nebulisers, masks, oxygen cylinders, gloves, oximeters, etc. This COVID-19 insurance policy is available for people between the ages of 18 and 65 for insured sums ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh. An individual can buy it for a policy tenure of 3.5 months, 6.5 months, and 9.5 months with a one-time premium payment.
According to Tanmay Desai, Health Insurance Advisor, Avani Investment Ltd, the Health Insurance market has changed after COVID-19 in 2020. He says, “Awareness has spread because people are realising that in the absence of health insurance, hospitalisation can actually take away all your savings and may entail a huge financial burden. Also, people are now looking at higher insured sums, like Rs 10 to 15 lakhs. The market has changed - people are more aware and more open to taking a health insurance policy where earlier that wasn’t the case.”
He also points out that despite the surge in health insurance policies in the wake of COVID-19, the percentage of people who are covered by insurance in India is still very small compared to other countries.
People should get themselves not just a good health insurance policy but also an adequate one. Tanmay advises that you should ask these important questions before buying a COVID-19 health insurance policy:
1. Is the Claim settlement ratio of the company good? Claim settlement ratio of an insurer is the number of claims settled against the number of claims filed: the higher the ratio, the better the insurer
2. Does the policy offer Pre and Post hospitalisation cover?
3. Is there a cap on Room Rent and ICU charges?
4. Is Restoration facility available? Restore benefit, as the name suggests, restores or replenishes your sum insured after it has been exhausted
5. Are there any add-on benefits like health follow up checks, online consultation facilities, OPD, etc.