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Critical Illness plans smart option for sensible individuals

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If you regularly find yourself working long hours, with no time or energy left to exercise, and no mind space to make a diet plan, you are not alone. Given our sedentary lifestyles, it’s no wonder that you are unable to be as healthy as you ought to be. 

You may plan your finances presuming you will stay healthy and productive long after you retire, but do you have a backup plan? Keeping in mind that you would need to provide for short-term and long-term debts, living expenses, and future life milestones such as your children’s education and marriage, how would you afford the treatment—both immediate and in the future? A liver transplant today costs up to Rs. 30 lacs. Stomach Cancer, one of the most prevalent types of Cancer in Indian men, is usually detected at stage 4 and its treatment can cost up to Rs 45 lacs in a tertiary care hospital in a city such as Mumbai or Delhi. The cost of a single Valve Replacement Surgery for Heart Disease is between Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 3,50,000. A person suffering from neurological conditions may have to shell out a lot more. 

Sadly, the instance of diseases in India is on the rise, with critical illnesses such as Cancer and Heart Disease being major culprits, as shown in the chart below. Cancer is of course the most dreaded disease, with worldwide new cases of Cancer having increased from 12.7m in 2008 to 14.1m in 2012, when there were 8.2m deaths. Over the next 20 years, it is expected to hit 25m a year – a 70% increase. 

Rising Cost of Healthcare

The cost of treatment in India has been consistently growing in double-digit numbers. As per a recent study by NSSO, the growth in healthcare cost has even outpaced average inflation. The cost of treatment for cancer, heart diseases, and other critical illnesses can run into multiple lakhs with just a single chemotherapy session costing almost a lakh and drugs like Sprycel, which is prescribed for Blood cancer, costing Rs 1,65,000 for 50 tablets. 
It can be a terrible thing to face a situation where a loved one suffers merely because you don’t have enough resources to afford the treatment. Desperate decisions such as the sale of assets, liquidation of savings, and loans from friends and relatives to fund the treatment may put your family's financial future at risk. 

So, how can you protect your family and finances from such difficulties?

The simplest way to take care of your healthcare finances is to buy adequate and comprehensive health insurance cover.

For protection against critical diseases and major lifestyle disorders, a critical illness plan over and above a hospitalization plan is the best value and most reliable option for protection. Make sure to look for one that goes beyond cashless hospitalization and also offers a lump sum pay-out that can help you with lifestyle expenses/income loss in addition to medical costs.
Being insured may not lessen the emotional and physical trauma of suffering from cancer, heart problems or any other dreaded disease. However, you won’t have to worry about things like how to arrange funds for buying medicines or for undergoing procedures, surgeries, or diagnostic tests.
A robust critical illness plan has the following features: 

  • A relatively high sum assured to pay for expensive procedures and surgeries.
  • Comprehensive cover for a broad range of critical illnesses under a single plan.
  • Benefit options that go beyond cashless treatment by giving you lump sum compensation that can help to minimize financial burden and cope with cost-of-living expenses

Critical Illness vs. Other Options

A critical illness cover is a specialized product that offers benefits that a base hospitalization plan rarely offers. Buying basic health insurance may seem appropriate. However, remember that this may leave you underinsured, especially when the cost of treatment can run into many lakhs of rupees even with minimal complications. If you are opting for a base insurance, look for a company that offers to double the sum insured in case of critical illness; this will help protect you on both fronts. Alternatively buy an additional Critical Illness plan in addition to your base hospitalization plan, which provides for a lump sum benefit in case of detection of any listed critical illness.
Option to choose between two kinds of cover, depending on your preference: 

  • Type 1: Reimbursement/payment of hospitalization expenses for treatment of critical illnesses, once diagnosed.
  • Type 2: A Lump Sum Payment of Sum Insured on diagnosis of critical illnesses and on survival for more than 30 days. This payout may be utilized by the insured for treatment of illness and any other incidental losses.

Benefits included in type 1 cover which is offered by a very limited number of insurers covers the following benefit: 

  • Cost of treatment for 30 days prior to hospitalization and 60 days after discharge.
  • Cost of organ transplant, if required.
  • Costs of home nursing for recuperating after discharge.
  • Inevitable cash expenses during the hospital stay
  • Expenses incurred by the accompanying person.
  • Cost of children’s education in the event of unfortunate demise of the policy holder during the treatment.

Further, critical illness cover type 1 can be purchased as a family floater plan, which means the sum assured can be used by any or all the family members covered under the policy. Thus, you don't need to worry about expenses- whether they are major (expensive diagnostic tests) or minor (ambulance charges for repeated hospitalization).

Conclusion

Critical Illness plan with benefits of lump sum compensation and packed with all the features discussed above is the most efficient way to secure your future and enjoy peace of mind. Another option would be to opt for an indemnity Critical Illness plan which would enable you to enjoy cashless hospitalization. To ensure that you get these benefits at the most economical cost possible, it's essential you buy one as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: The prices of the drugs indicated above may change depending on many factors, including local taxes. These are only approximate indicative prices of the drug at the time the article was created.

You may also like to read: 

  • What are the Benefits of Health Insurance?
  • Zika Outbreak: What you need to know
  • Why You Need Critical Illness Cover?

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