No one can predict the future, but building a safety net in the form of health insurance gives essential peace of mind. Question is where to begin? What should you look for in a health insurance policy? And which health policy will be best at safeguarding your family?
Here are the top three questions to ask before buying health insurance for the first time.
1. What health insurance plan do I need?
Health insurance terminology can be confusing. Below, we explain what some of the different types of health insurance offer:
- Critical illness plans
Critical illness plans pay a lump sum, either upon diagnosis of a critical illness covered by the policy (for instance cancer), or after treatment or surgery covered by the policy.
- Disability income plans
Disability income plans pay a fixed amount each month to replace the income you lost while you are unable to work as a result of an accident or illness. Online calculators like the disability coverage calculator can help you calculate how much you would need.
- Hospital cash plans
Hospital cash plans pay daily cash benefit for each day you are hospitalised during medical treatment or surgery.
- Long-term care plans
Long-term care plans pay a monthly fixed amount towards expenses for long-term nursing or medical treatment.
- Medical expense plans
Receive a guaranteed income even while you're hospitalised. Medical expense plans pay daily cash benefit for each day you spend in hospital. You can use the money to pay for alternative treatments, supplement lost income or pay for anything else you might need.
2. What should I look for in a health insurance plan?
With so many options to choose from, signing up for a health insurance plan may seem overwhelming. Here are some key features to focus on to maximise your benefits.
- Deductibles and co-insurance
Deductibles and co-insurance (where you pay for part of the health costs up to a certain ceiling) are applicable for medical expenses insurance plans only, and they work together to keep the premiums you pay affordable.
- Claim limits
These are the limits to the amount you are able to claim under a policy. For example, medical expense policies may have limits for each illness or disability. So remember to ask your distribution representative how much you can actually claim.
- Age limit
Certain health insurance policies are off-limits once you hit a certain age. It’s good to know what best fits your age group. To understand which ones are most suitable for you, have a chat with your distribution representative.
- Policy exclusions
All policies contain “exclusions” or conditions where benefits will not be paid. These usually include pre-existing conditions, illnesses and disabilities you had before you signed up for the plan.
- Waiting/Deferred periods
There may be waiting periods or deferred periods during which benefits will not be paid should something happen to you. Here again your distribution representative will guide you.
- Worldwide coverage
Worldwide coverage will protect you wherever you go, but some do have geographical limits, so do take note and pick what makes most sense for your travel destinations.
3. What health insurance options are available for parents and children?
If you are a parent, you want coverage that protects everyone in the family in times of need. Here are some health insurance plans that provide fundamental protection for you and your loved ones.
- Hospital and surgical plans
These plans help cover any of the family’s hospitalisation bills as a result of accidents or illnesses, as well as expenses for treatment or surgery in hospital.
- Personal accident and infectious disease plans
These plans provide comprehensive global protection against personal accident and infectious diseases usually suffered by children such as hand, foot and mouth disease and dengue fever.
- Daily companion allowance
This is paid out if you have to take time off to spend with your child if they are hospitalised.
- Critical illness plans
These plans pay a lump sum if the life assured is diagnosed with a critical illness, such as heart attack, stroke or cancer.
To find a health insurance plan that suits your requirements, you’re best advised to talk to a financial consultant who will analyse your needs to help you make an informed decision.
Asking him or her questions above is a good place to start. Once you have narrowed down your needs, they will then help take you closer to better health coverage for you and your entire family.