Need health insurance plan? High-value covers can have restrictions

The demand for health insurance that covers treatment abroad is on the rise. Consequently, the sum insured has also been rising. Recently, ManipalCigna Health Insurance launched a policy that offers a cover of $2.5 million. But it’s sold only to customers of IIFL Wealth. Before this, New India Assurance had launched a policy that has a cover of up to $1 million. Some time back, Religare Health Insurance enhanced the sum insured on its existing product to offer Rs 6 crore sum insured.

Treatment abroad, especially in the US and Canada, for critical illnesses, can be expensive. “While it’s been a few days since we launched, we have received queries from a few celebrities about the high-value plan,” says Prasun Sikdar managing director and CEO, ManipalCigna Health Insurance Company.

Policies with a high sum insured offering global cover are targeted at ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNI) and high net worth individuals (HNI). While some of them offer treatment anywhere in the world for any illness, some come with restrictions. “The premiums vary with each plan as they are different in their scope and coverage. A buyer, therefore, needs to look at his requirement first and then choose a high-value policy” says Vaidyanathan Ramani, head of product and innovations,

High-value global cover is needed: Several segments of the affluent are looking at policies that cover treatment overseas. Some travel and stay abroad frequently for work. They want a global cover as travel insurance has its limitations – for example, it does not cover hospitalisation happening due to pre-existing diseases. Many have families abroad.

Then there are those Indians who are located overseas in countries such as Singapore, the US, the UK and Australia and have parents back in India. In case of hospitalisation for a serious illness, they want to take care of their parents. They, therefore, want a policy that covers the parents in the country of their residence. “Many Indian hospitals have also started referring their patients to hospitals abroad, especially in the US,” says Sikdar.

But only a few are all-inclusive: High-value policies that cover treatment abroad can be broadly classified into two categories. Companies like ManipalCigna Health Insurance and Religare Health Insurance let policyholders get treatment overseas for any illness, just like a domestic policy does. Then there are plans from New India Assurance and Max Bupa that allow hospitalisation for specific diseases only.

Many of these high-sum insured products either don’t cover the US and Canada for treatment, or policyholders have to pay an additional premium if they want to include these two countries. There is also co-payment of up to 20 per cent in some policies. 

Policies that cover specified diseases, which are typically the 15-17 critical illnesses, are meant for people who want to get the best global coverage only for life-threatening conditions. For the rest, they prefer to have their treatment in India. Some also cover the insured for a limited number of days in a single trip and have restrictions on the number of days a person can get treatment abroad. Say, a policy offers treatment abroad for 90 days in a year. But, within this, it could also have a restriction. The length for each treatment could be restricted to 45 days from the date of travel.

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