Cover yourself comprehensively with a dengue policy this monsoon

Shweta Mehta, 38, a freelancer from Delhi, suffered from dengue last year. She was first treated as an out-patient for a few days and was then hospitalised for three days. She didn't have a health insurance cover of her own and being a freelancer, she was not even covered by an employee health cover. The bill of Rs 55,000 that the hospital presented her with hit her hard as she had to meet the entire expense out of her own pocket.

A report by the Delhi Municipal Corporation says that almost 9,300 people suffered from dengue in Delhi alone in 2017. With the onset of monsoon, dengue-related hospitalisations have already started making the news. Buying a low-cost dengue cover (see table for premiums) is the least you can do to safeguard yourself against this annual epidemic.  

The cost of treatment for dengue can range anywhere from Rs 35,000 to Rs 80,000. Two companies currently provide specialised dengue covers - Apollo Munich and DHFL Pramerica. A key feature of dengue policies is that they cover both inpatient and outpatient treatment. A standard health insurance policy covers you only for the cost of hospitalisation provided you are admitted for at least 24 hours.  

The value addition that a dengue cover provides becomes apparent when the patient undergoes treatment on out-patient basis. A dengue plan covers all out-patient expenses, such as medical tests, medicines, and doctor’s consultation. “Only 12-15 per cent of people get hospitalised for dengue. All the rest are treated on an out-patient basis, something that is not covered by a standard health insurance policy,” says Mahavir Chopra, director-health, life and strategic initiatives, Coverfox. 

The way the premium is charged in these disease-specific policies is also different. A dengue cover charges the same premium from all customers, irrespective of age. The premium also remains constant on renewal. In a standard health insurance plan, the premium is closely linked to age, and may increase slightly each year, with major hikes at intervals of five years or so.

The waiting period in these policies is also short. “These policies come with a very short waiting period of just 15 days to ensure that the person is not infected with dengue at the time of purchase. It is also available to all categories of people, including those who have been rejected for normal mediclaim policies,” says Antony Jacob, chief executive officer, Apollo Munich Health Insurance. Policyholders are also not required to undergo any health check-ups to buy these plans. A self-declaration in the proposal form suffices.

These are fixed benefit plans. “If you are diagnosed with dengue, these fixed benefit plans pay you the full sum insured, irrespective of actual hospitalisation or medical bills," says Vaidyanathan Ramani, head-product and innovation,

A dengue insurance policy also helps to keep the accrued no claim bonus in your main mediclaim policy intact. “These policies are ideal for people who do not want small claims to affect the accumulated no-claim bonus in the mediclaim policy,” says Anoop Pabby, managing director and chief executive officer, DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance.

The key disadvantage of these policies, of course, is that they are of no use if you are diagnosed with any disease other than dengue.

Even people with a mediclaim policy may buy these policies for additional cover, as they cost very little and will compensate you for OPD expense in case you fall prey to the disease. 

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