Individual or family health cover? Things to consider before you decide

While all of us are wearing a mask, washing our hands often, self-isolating and doing our best to maintain social distancing, the spread of COVID-19 hasn’t yet stopped with around a year having already passed since the world first encountered the virus. The catastrophic health and economic ramifications brought on by the pandemic have shocked everyone. Over 64 million people across the world have been affected by the virus. Almost 1.5 million among them have died. When it comes to India, it is second only to the US in terms of number of infections. The number of cases in the country now are close to 10 million with 1.38 lakh deaths[1].

If there is one thing that the COVID crisis has taught the world, it is the importance of having an adequate and comprehensive health insurance cover. Many of those who got infected by the virus not only had to face a health crisis and emotional trauma, but also a financial setback because they did not have health insurance to cover for the huge costs for treatment of the infection. However, the fear of the Coronavirus is not the only reason to have a health cover. After living with the virus for almost a year, one must accept that while the spotlight is on COVID-19 infections, other health issues haven’t disappeared. Health issues can crop up suddenly and without warning. Being prepared for them is the best thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones.

Health Insurance to Rescue

While the health facilities in our country are improving, the cost to avail them is also going up at the same time. In such circumstances, health insurance is the best way to manage any unforeseen medical expenses in the long term. By opting for such a policy, you can get coverage for different medical expenses, including pre-and-post hospitalisation expenses, emergency ambulance services and even specialised procedures to treat heart problems like angioplasty or bypass surgery that can cost up to several lakhs.

Even therapy for COVID-19 isn’t cheap. According to doctors, treatment of a standard COVID-19 carrier, even without ventilators or other life-saving equipment, costs anywhere between Rs 20,000-25,000 every day. For the whole duration of hospitalisation, it can run up in to several lakhs[2].

This is what makes a comprehensive health insurance plan your best friend to control your health and your financial future.

However, once you have decided to get a health insurance, you will stumble upon the question – which health insurance to choose?

Individual vs Family Health Cover : These are the two most popular health insurance cover choices that one may choose from. Both have their own benefits and serve different needs. So, you must carefully analyse your requirements & compare health insurance before opting for one of these.

Individual Health Insurance – This type of a plan protects a single individual from the burden of hefty medical bills. Coverage could extend to Ayurvedic and homeopathic treatment, daycare procedures charges, bariatric surgery, pre and post hospitalisation charges, organ donor expenses and road ambulance expenses. In case you are hospitalised, there is even a provision for a daily cash stipend that gives you peace of mind for smaller payments during the day.

Family Health Insurance – While the Individual Health Insurance plan only covers the medical expenses of a single individual, a Family Plan gives you coverage for yourself, your spouse and dependent children. Leading insurance companies also have family health insurance plans that give you the option of getting an individual sum for each family member or get a “Family Floater Plan” that protects all your loved ones by enabling them to use the overall sum assured as per the requirement. You can avoid dipping into your savings for sudden expenses like hospitalization, doctor’s consultation and ambulance services.

When it comes to health insurance, buying a plan from India’s leading insurance provider, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance gives you the dual benefit of getting an affordable plan and buying it from a trustworthy provider. With comprehensive services to cover all kinds of issues and an industry-best, average claim settlement time of one hour, you know you will get your money’s worth irrespective of which type of policy you buy.

But, before you opt for either an individual plan or a family plan, consider what your needs are…

    • Do you have a large or small family?
    • With the cost of medical expenses rising, do you have sufficient coverage for yourself and your family?
    • Do you have illnesses or pre-existing conditions that need long-term care?
    • Does any member require a specific kind of coverage due to their age (senior citizens) or if they must go through organ donor procedures?
    • What kind of reputation and industry standing does your insurance provider have?
    • How good is their customer service record?

Finally understanding your needs and your family’s medical needs is key to getting the right plan. A family floater plan is best for larger as well as nuclear families and eliminates the need to get a separate policy for every single member. This means less paperwork and management, as you are only managing one policy. The sum assured is available to all members, and you can make multiple claims. If a family member is hospitalised, part of the coverage can be used while the rest is saved for the rest of the family.

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance offers health insurance solutions for both individuals and families. Its Health Care Supreme plan is one such one-stop solution that offers health insurance for your whole family with maternity cover benefit as well as new-born baby health insurance. Another plan by Bajaj Allianz, Health Guard – Family Floater Health Insurance plan, is a good option if you have dependent parents apart from your spouse and children.

On the other hand, an individual plan can be more suitable for a person who has no dependents, is a senior citizen in a larger family or if s/he has some special needs. In terms of individual plans, Bajaj Allianz company offers a variety of policies to suit different needs. You can also customise these plans with various riders including the ones to cover critical illnesses.

Irrespective of which stage of life you are at, a health insurance plan can be the perfect companion for you in this journey. However, since your priorities and requirements may change as your life progresses, you must review your health insurance plans periodically to ensure that they still meet your needs. For example, you may be perfectly happy with an individual plan when you are single, but switching to a family plan would make a lot of sense when you get married and have children. So, you must review them every time you enter a new stage of life to ensure that you are not exposed to any kind of uncertainty.