What next after buying Health Insurance?

Bought health insurance for yourself and family? You have taken the right step to secure your family for medical emergencies. But your job does not end here. Tackling emergency not only means being prepared financially. It also means being prepared mentally at some level. Our rational mind would usually panic first during a medical emergency and may not think properly to take the right decision. The real test thus happens in the event of an hospitalisation and claiming health insurance is just one element of preparedness. Let us examine how you can be further prepared by looking at the other aspects of a medical emergency:

  1. Check hospitals in your vicinity: Seek opinion from relatives, friends, neighbors as to which hospitals, nursing homes, etc., are good in your neighbourhood. At least be aware and make a mental note of them. While taking the patient to the hospital in the right time matters a lot, choosing the right hospital for treatment is also crucial. Confirm if your list of shortlisted hospitals offers cashless claim service. Also, check out whether your selected hospital figures in the network list of your health insurer.
  2. Information Document: After the issuance of your health policy, the first thing you should do is scan the policy document and the health card. Store the soft copy in your computer in a folder. Also, maintain all the important contacts required during a medical emergency in the common folder. This should include numbers of shortlisted hospitals/nursing homes, doctors, health insurer, TPA and their customer care service, etc. Take printouts and store the physical copy in your cupboard, showcase, wherever you can remember and access it. Also, keep a soft copy of the contacts and policy document in your mailbox and mobile. The purpose of creating this document is that all the crucial information is available in handy during an emergency. You can focus on the treatment of your loved ones and your precious time is saved.
  3. Evaluate payment options: Despite having health insurance, you need to have some funds ready to pay from your own pocket. The reasons below warrant creation of an emergency fund:
  • the hospital chosen may deny cashless claim if it is not in the network of hospitals of your insurer or it may allow only partial claim for some procedural reasons or
  • the total hospital bill may come out to be more than your actual health cover or
  • there are a whole host of non-medical expenses which are not covered in the insurance claim such as admission & registration fees, extra bed charges, equipment used in ambulance during transit from home to hospital, etc. These expenses vary from insurer to insurer.

An emergency fund equivalent to 6 months expenses or at least Rs.5 lakh should be maintained. The focus is not on investing & returns here but parking the emergency funds in safe options which are liquid and quickly accessible. You can invest one half of the emergency fund in flexi bank fixed deposit and the other half in a liquid fund. Do not forget to replenish your emergency fund once you have utilised it after hospitalisation. It also helps to use credit card in a medical emergency provided you have the funds available within a month to pay in full.

  1. Inform Family: If any of your family members are hospitalised, you are available to take care of all procedures, right from hospitalisation to informing the health insurer and settling the mediclaim. But what about the scenario when you are hospitalised? Would your family be well prepared to handle all formalities? What if they are frantically searching for your health card while you are on hospital bed? It is thus important that you keep your family in the loop about handling medical emergencies. Mail them all the necessary information explained in Point 2 and also store all the documents at a central location from where your family can have easy access to. Further, your spouse should be in a position to pay bills if necessary with adequate knowledge to use net banking, debit card or even credit card, etc. It is advisable to have a joint account with spouse so either of them can operate and pay for expenses from that account.

Many people do not think of these basic steps after buying health insurance. I am sure these would guide you and your family in preparing for critical situations, save on precious time and at least help lower the stress that comes along during an emergency.



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