Looking after your health is important and it becomes especially critical during a crisis like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has made us feel like we are inhabiting a world that was completely unknown to us just a month ago. In India, all states are under lockdown due to the surge in the novel COVID-19 cases. The virus refers to a large family of viruses which cause mild illness such as common flu leading to severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). People experience symptoms like high fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The world does not have any vaccine that prevents people from contracting this disease, and not getting exposed to the illness is the only way you save yourself. Health experts have suggested some of the precautionary measures to ensure safety against the virus. In addition, here is what you can do to insure your health and avoid any financial expenditure related to coronavirus.

Importance of health insurance during COVID-19

  • High treatment charges: Buying health insurance cover for you and your family is essential because treatment costs for COVID-19 or any other illness are expensive. The spread of the disease is so rampant that it can put all your family members' health at risk. In India, a diagnostic test of COVID-19 initially cost approximately Rs. 4,500 plus the hospitalization charges that could be around Rs. 10,000 for a single individual. However, if you have health insurance, all these expenses get covered.

  • Insurance for senior citizens: You should buy health insurance if you have dependent family members, including your parents. The deadly virus tends to affect senior citizens easily and people who have a low immunity level. For the safety of your parents and family members, you should have a plan that shields them from possible health risks. 

  • Financially secured: Health insurance keeps you financially secured. It will cover all the expenses made towards medical tests, doctor consultation fees, pre- and post-hospitalization costs, ambulance charges, quarantine costs if you’re seeking treatment at the hospital. This will lessen your financial stress in case of medical emergencies.   

Common Questions Around Covid-19 Health Insurance Cover

Here are some of the common health insurance queries related to COVID-19.

  • How much coverage is offered under existing insurance plans for coronavirus infection?

A regular health insurance plan covers coronavirus infection and is similar to any other ailment. To avail treatment through your medical insurance, you need to be hospitalised for at least 24 hours. During your hospitalisation, all your expenses will be covered for treatment of the ailment. Apart from this, pre and post hospitalisation expenses will also be covered which includes a test for COVID-19, regular blood tests, x-ray and ambulance expenses. You must remember that pre and post hospitalisation expenses are only covered up to before 30 days of hospitalisation and after 30 days of hospitalisation.

  • If I don’t have a health insurance policy, can I buy one now to cover Covid-19?

You can buy a health insurance policy to cover yourself against COVID-19 and all other ailments as well. Before buying a policy, however, you must be aware of two very important aspects. First, any insurer will not issue you a policy if you are already suffering from the COVID-19 infection. You must make sure that before buying a policy, you are not suffering from any such ailment. Second, after buying the policy, you need to serve the waiting period, i.e. of 30 days before filing a claim for coronavirus infection. Every health insurance policy comes with a clause of the waiting period of 30 days for regular hospitalisation and 2 – 4 years for pre-existing diseases. However, claims related to the accident are covered from day one of buying the policy.

  • What is the average cost of treatment of coronavirus infection?

Coronavirus treatment cost depends on various factors such as the choice of hospital, the severity of the infection and age of the patient. For an average adult between the age group of 30-45 years, taking treatment at a normal private hospital, the cost of treatment comes around Rs. 5 to Rs. 6 lakhs. If the patient is over 50 years of age and the infection is quite severe (as the chances are quite high amongst people above 50), the cost of treatment may go up to Rs. 10 to Rs. 12 lakhs as the person may require ventilator support and extreme care in Intensive Care Unit where the daily charges are significantly high.

  • Are there any Covid-19 specific health insurance plans that offer coverage only for coronavirus treatment?

Many insurers have come up with fixed-benefit plans that offer coverage specifically for COVID-19. These plans are disease-specific plans that offer a lump-sum amount on diagnosis of coronavirus infection. Such plans are an excellent way to compensate for the loss of income during the treatment of the illness as the policyholder is paid the entire sum insured as a lump sum in case of testing positive for coronavirus and 50 per cent lump sum if the person is advised quarantine at a medical centre. These plans also come with a waiting period of 10 – 15 days, depending upon the plan you choose.

  • Will the Covid-19 treatment require me to pay from my pocket and are there any room rent limitations in insurance cover?

Some health insurance products require the customer to bear a part of the expense from his pocket, called a co-pay, a simple cost control measure built-in by insurers. Co-pay is a reasonable amount to pay out of your pocket when the bill is small, but when the bills are large, the burden is likely to be heavy. For example, if your policy has a 10 percent copay and the claim is Rs. 50,000, you are expected to bear Rs. 5,000 and the insurer would pay the remaining Rs. 45,000. However, if the bill is Rs. 10 lakhs, you will end up paying Rs. 1 lakh. 

Basic Precautions Against Covid-19

Here are some of the basic and important precautions to take against Covid-19.

  • The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

End Note

A lot of times, people struggle to pay for their hospitalization expenses due to lack of insurance coverage. Many people often exhaust their savings or sell off their valuable assets to pay for hospitalization expenses. Healthcare treatment costs are growing exponentially by at least 15 per cent year on year. COVID-19 expenses are no less and can go upwards of Rs 5 lakh. This makes it important to have an insurance cover.