Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage that covers the cost of an insured individual’s medical and surgical expenses. Depending on the type of health insurance coverage, either the insured pays costs out-of-pocket and is then reimbursed, or the insurer makes payments directly to the provider.
Health Insurance in India
Health insurance in India is still for the privileged few and is, however, still largely in the form of a plain vanilla cover, mediclaim, introduced a decade-and-half ago. Customization is used in group health insurance by corporates for their employees. In the case of the individual, customization has not taken off despite the fact that we now have different products such as hospital cash, critical illnesses and so on. For any product to be customized, the awareness level has to be high.
Waiting period in Health Insurance
When you sign up for a new health insurance policy, it doesn’t get implemented with immediate effect. The policy comes into effect after a ‘waiting period’, which depends on the kind of insurance and other factors, such as age, your medical history and the company. In other words, the insurer is liable to entertain any claim amount filed only after this waiting period.
If an individual undergoes an accident or undergoes hospitalization during the waiting period, the customer may not be covered for a loss. As mentioned before, the concept of waiting period exists across different kinds of insurance policies, and the quantum of waiting period may differ depending upon the insurer and the nature of the insurance policy.
However, following are the broad indicators of waiting period. There is an initial waiting period of 30 days, which goes up to 90 days in some cases, from the effective date of the policy. Some insurance policies may permit treatment for accidental external injuries with a minimum of 24-hour hospitalization.
Pre-existing diseases may not be covered in the first 2-4 years of the policy depending on your age and the nature of the policy. A pre-existing disease refers to any medical condition of an individual prior to the commencement of the policy. Now the policy may be effective for any other ailments in the first few years of the policy. Buy any claim filed for illness related to the pre-existing disease will not be covered in the first 1-4 years of the policy as stated in the policy document.
This feature is most common in insurance policies designed for senior citizens. Also, the insurer may insist that you stick with the same insurer if you want the cover to continue without further waiting periods in future.
The third is the ailment-specific waiting period, during which an ailment will not be covered. This again varies from company to company. But some common ailments that involve waiting periods include, ENT disorders, polycystic ovarian diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, hypertension and hernia. These ailments are usually covered only after two years from the date of commencement of the policy.