How to manage rising medical costs

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 29, 2018 17:59 hrs
Life Insurance (Reuters image)

To the world, India was touted as the capital of medical tourism. A place where at affordable rates, one can avail premium healthcare services at hospitals and clinics which look more like a luxury hotel than a regular hospital.

While this boosted India's image in the world, the common man is struggling. Thanks to a burgeoning middle class that is overstressed and overworked, lifestyle diseases are on the rise and so are critical illnesses. It does not come as a surprise that Indians are visiting the doctors more than ever. With or without medical insurance, health causes the most worries.

Data from NSS Report 574 reveals that about 4.4% of the urban population was hospitalised in a single year and 3.5% of the rural percentage. However, a surprising percentage, 57% in rural, 68% in urban undertook treatment without any 'medical advice'. This cause was attributed to 'financial constraints'.

This may seem upsetting but there is a silver lining. More Indian people are insured than before. According to the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA), during 2015-16, 'the general and health insurance companies have issued around 1.18 crore health insurance policies covering 35.90 crore persons (2014-15: 28.8 crore) and registered a growth of 24.65 percent in the number of persons covered over the previous year.'

Three-fourths of the coverage came from government-sponsored health insurance schemes while the remaining one-fourth was covered by individual insurers. Medical inflation will keep rising, be it due to new technology developments or alternative treatment options, to ensure you or your family can afford it, make the most of your insurance plan.

  • Choose a smart sum insured. Inspect your family members and their medical history. Take a call on possible and foreseeable health concerns and expenditures, then choose a sum insured.

  • Medical insurance in India permits all family members to come under one family floater plan. Go for them if you wish to.

  • Buy a top-up plan. This will accentuate your regular health plan and ensure your claim amount does not exhaust the final medical bill.

  • Go for plans that feature the lowest waiting periods and lowest time before pre-existing illnesses are eligible for claims.

  • Health policies qualify for tax deductions under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act. Use the saved money for medical expenditures.

Healthcare costs will always face the brunt of inflation, it is up to you to make the most of your insurance plan and keep yourself as well as your family safe.

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