Topic 4: The ever-growing need for health insurance post-pandemic

Since the emergence of the coronavirus disease in 2019 (COVID-19), the world has come to a standstill, forcing governments to impose lockdowns and people to confine themselves to their homes.

The pandemic-declared COVID-19 has resulted in a health crisis, destroying healthcare infrastructure and economies worldwide. It is the third recorded outbreak of a coronavirus. Till now, the virus has infected more than 147 million people and claimed more than 3 million lives.

Today, India ranks among the top three countries which have been hit worst by Covid-19. This health crisis has resulted in high inflation, especially medical inflation, and unemployment in the country.

One of the biggest challenges of COVID-19 is its huge treatment cost which can take a toll on the finances and mental well-being of different sections of society, especially the poor and the middle-class. The growth reflects that now more and more people are starting to consider a health insurance plan as essential as other necessities for survival, in a country where insurance penetration stood below 4% in the pre-covid times.

Over the past year, we saw a steep upward trend in the sale of comprehensive health insurance plans. During the pre-covid times, the number of people who purchased comprehensive insurance plans was approximately 32%, while now after being hit by one of the biggest pandemics, this percentage has shot up to 55%. The data shows that COVID-19 has increased consciousness circling the importance of preventive health insurance in the country.

One of the key reasons for the increase in the sales of health insurance plans is the fact that all health insurance providers were mandatorily made to provide coverage for COVID-19 treatment under their regular health insurance plan by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).

In July 2020, the IRDAI also made it mandatory for insurance companies to offer COVID-19 specific short-term health insurance plans namely Corona Kavach Plan and Corona Rakshak Plan. These two plans were specially designed to help policyholders meet the healthcare cost incurred due to the coronavirus disease. The regulator had also earlier in the year launched a Standard Health Insurance Product (SHIP) by the name Arogya Sanjeevani Policy to help people enjoy a standard and comprehensive health insurance coverage. All these steps by the IRDAI contributed positively to the health insurance well-being of the policyholders by keeping them insured against medical contingencies during these tough times.

In a nutshell, the COVID-19 pandemic has made us all realise the importance of health and health insurance plans. It has made us come to terms with the fact that how crucial it is to remain financially shielded as emergencies, especially medical emergencies, come without a warning sign and can result in a financial strain along with emotional grief. However, while purchasing a health insurance plan it is also important to check the coverage of the plan.

You must check if your plan provides enough coverage for pre and post hospitalisation, inpatient and outpatient hospitalisation, annual health check-ups, or for any specific disease against which you wish to remain shielded. You can also enhance the coverage of the plan with the help of various rider options like critical illness cover, maternity cover, OPD cover, room rent waiver cover, etc., and customise the plan as per your exact requirements.
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