Getting health insurance for your parents? 5 things you should know

Over the years, medicine has made tremendous advancements leading to an increase in life expectancy. The flip side — increase in the cost of medical treatment, and even more so with advancing age. The best option to take care of medical expenses is a health insurance cover.

While you may already have one, are your parents covered? The older the person, the tougher it is to get a cover. If you’re getting your parents a health insurance cover, here are 5 factors to keep in mind;

1.The Age factor

The biggest difference (and barrier to entry) between health insurance for senior citizens and regular health insurance is the age of the person insured. Many insurance companies don’t insure your parent(s) if they are at a certain age, which varies between 70 and 80 years. Some companies may allow entry, but may not allow renewal beyond 85–90 years.

2.Pre-existing diseases and medical check-up

While most insurers have a waiting period of 24–48 months before covering pre-existing diseases, there are some who have either reduced this time to 12 months or even nil. Many insurers also stipulate a medical check-up before approving the policy, while some waive this requirement. The flip side? The premium is likely to be higher and/or insurance coverage amount could be lower.

3.Exclusions and co-payment clauses

Like regular health insurance, every expense item can have an exclusion (not covered by policy) and/or co-payment clause (where expenses are partly borne by the insured person) attached to it. From the room of choice to any specialist care / treatment needed — each line item in the hospital bill is likely to have one of the two clauses attached to it. Co-payment is usually compulsory for senior citizens’ health insurance, though the percentage can vary between 20–40% of the item/bill.

4.Group coverage by employer

It is a good idea to check the coverage offered by your employer — while spouse and children are covered, some allow coverage for parents as well. The advantage? No payment of premium, and several pre-existing conditions would be covered from Day 1. However, irrespective of employer cover, always have a personal secondary cover.

5.Tax Benefit

Premium paid towards health insurance for self and parents are eligible for a tax deduction under Section 80D. If your parents pay the premium, they can claim a deduction according to their age (higher for Senior Citizens). If you pay the premium on their behalf, you are eligible for a tax deduction in addition to that for the premium paid for your own health cover.

Bottom line: When getting a health insurance cover for your parents, the sooner the better. The more you delay, higher the chances of not getting one at all, or at a very high premium. As grim as the situation might sound, the extra cost will be worth the financial relief you get in a medical emergency.

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Originally published at www.getwalnut.com on August 16, 2016.

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