Last week, the Insurance Bill was passed by the Indian parliament and became an Act that has completely reformed the concept of health insurance from covering risks within India to offering services worldwide. Now, mediclaim insurance companies in India will have products to give medical cover abroad and in India as well.
Earlier, customers would have to purchase travel insurance which covers only evacuation costs and medical emergencies. The new products commit to give overseas advantages such as outpatient treatment, pre-diagnosed planned hospitalization and unexpected sickness during travel.
Overseas travel insurance policy is totally different as compared to travel insurance policies which cover treatment expenses for medical requirements arising because of international travel. In fact, the maximum term offered by this policy is normally up to 180 days.
There are some insurers who already offer some kind of international insurance which were launched much before the Insurance Act. Some products are designed to benefit frequent travelers, retired senior citizens and their extended families etc.
According to insurance experts, there is a sizeable segment of customers, who for different reasons, prefer to enjoy specific treatment overseas. Under such scenario, cost is not a deterrent and customers are fine with buying for a higher sum insured to avail treatment overseas.
Now, health insurance companies in India are expected to introduce comprehensive coverage. The main difference between a basic healthcare plan and overseas health insurance policy is that it will usually have higher sum insured. It has been observed that premiums are higher in international coverage due to the currency exchange rate.
The new products will be add-ons or will be combined within comprehensive plans with higher sum insured. But, these policies are difficult to buy for those who have critical illnesses and pre-existing conditions.
Regular annual indemnity insurance offers in-patient coverage and excludes out-patient expenses. The coverage will be differentiated under two segments such as emergency treatment and elective planned hospitalization.
Under emergency treatment, instant care will be insured but beyond a specific period the insured would have to continue treatment in India for successful claims. In case of planned-hospitalization, patient requires special medical treatment abroad.
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