Here’s how you can make your health insurance policy more comprehensive to protect yourself and your loved ones from the Omicron variant.

The world is once again coming to terms with another type of COVID – a severely mutated and this time believed to be highly transmissible. As the virus rears its ugly head once again, from travel guidelines to vaccine efficacy, all safety measures are being re-evaluated once again. While things may slowly return to normal, it’s time to put our guard down for now. Even as we prepare to fight Omicron and its consequences, don’t forget to upgrade the most important safety shield against it – your health insurance. The disastrous second wave has taught us some hard lessons and now it’s up to us to measure and minimize the after-effects this time around.

Modern times have revolutionized the health insurance landscape. While awareness and demand related to health insurance has increased significantly after the outbreak, simply having access to insurance is not enough. This may be the best time for you to reevaluate your health insurance. Soon after the outbreak, all health insurance companies started offering coverage for COVID-related hospitalization, but it is advisable to check if your current health insurance will be enough to protect you.

Here’s how you can make your health insurance policy more comprehensive to protect yourself and your loved ones from the Omicron variant.

Choose a comprehensive policy to cover diseases caused by COVID

On the surface, it may seem that you need to protect yourself from COVID-19 and its variants. However, the past two years have taught us to tread carefully. COVID is giving way to other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, among many others.

Usually, a person is more likely to develop these lifestyle diseases at a later stage in their life. Unfortunately, if you contract COVID, you become more susceptible to these diseases at any point even after recovery. The latest findings from the National Family Health Survey also revealed that Indians are now obese, have higher blood pressure and are more likely to develop diabetes than in 2015-2016.

Apart from that, you also need to protect yourself from other complications like black fungus. The consequences from this can be severe and may even require hospitalization. As more details about Omicron are revealed, you need to stay protected against the range of conditions underlying COVID by opting for universal health coverage.

Go for a higher covered stay deposit in case of a hospital stay

Just as you need a plan that covers the majority of illnesses, you also have to take into account the high rate of medical inflation year after year. The second wave is still a frightening reminder of how important it is to stay prepared in advance. Medical bills during this time rose to Rs 85,000 to Rs 1 crore. If you have an insufficient amount insured, you will end up paying the remaining amount. Especially in metro cities, these expenses can deeply cut your savings.

In case your policy is renewable, you can choose a higher security deposit. However, if the renewal is not due in the near future, you can always buy a super boost on your policy. For example, if you have an existing policy of INR 10,000, you can get a super increase of Rs 90,000 and the total coverage will be Rs 1 crore. The Niva Bupa Health Recharge plan offers a super premium of Rs 90 lakh on a deductible of Rs 10 lakh for an annual premium of Rs 898, as per the terms and conditions.

Include home treatment expenses and other additional fees

Home treatment refers to treating a patient at home even when he or she needs to be hospitalized. There are two reasons for this – either due to unavailability of a hospital room or the patient’s comorbidity or critical condition approved by the doctor. It wasn’t long ago that a large number of COVID patients struggled to find a hospital bed and had to be treated at the same home. Guidance has also been developed regarding home isolation and treatment of Covid patients. While a return of the COVID panic seems very likely with this alternative, it makes sense to include coverage for home treatment.

Other additional expenses that you need to note are doctor’s consultations, checkups, tests, use of medical aids, outpatient and ambulance fees, etc. Make sure this fee is covered under your policy.

Looking for claims settlement

Claims settlement is the moment of truth for both the insured and the insured. When settling a claim, the policy really proves to be fruitful. Be sure to check the claims settlement ratio before terminating your insurance company. Usually, a ratio greater than 95% is considered ideal. Not only this, check any terms, conditions, or fine print that may cause a hindrance later on while your claim is being processed.

Add the right riders

Riders are additional benefits that you can attach to your trust at an additional cost to your premium. Some of these famous riders could be on hand during this time of COVID. For example, consumables make up about 20% of hospitalization bills for the COVID virus, but many comprehensive plans don’t cover them by default. Consumables are medical aid items that are discarded after single use, such as syringes, PPE kits, masks, gloves, etc. Adding a rider like the Care Shield or Niva Bupa Safeguard gets the added coverage at a very nominal cost. Likewise, critical illness coverage helps pay your bills in case of critical illnesses that may arise from coronavirus, such as heart attack, kidney failure, etc. A few other riders like hospital cash benefit or an inflation protection rider can also come in handy during these times. Don’t forget to check for suitable passengers with your insurance company.

While the Omicron variant is still being researched and new information emerges every day, it is wise to make an informed decision by taking lessons from the past.

(By Amit Shubra, Head of Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com)

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