Importance of comprehensive health insurance for modern families


In the contemporary Indian scenario, families in the 25-45 age group face significant pressure to enhance their lifestyles continuously. A complex landscape of aspirations, responsibilities, and financial pressures is always a burden in Indian families. The modern family’s focus on achieving a higher standard of living frequently leads them to prioritize immediate tangible benefits over essential long-term protections like comprehensive health insurance. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for robust health coverage, yet many still opt for the cheapest available plans, viewing insurance merely as a regulatory checkbox rather than a critical safeguard for their health and financial stability.

Lifestyle Pressures

Indian families today are driven by societal expectations and personal aspirations. Take, for instance, the Sharma family. Rajesh Sharma, a 38-year-old marketing executive, and his wife, Priya, a 34-year-old school teacher, live with their two children in a rented apartment. Their monthly budget includes expenses for their children’s education, EMIs for their car, groceries, and lifestyle enhancements like dining out and annual vacations. With a combined monthly income of INR 1,50,000, they manage to balance their budget but find it challenging to allocate funds for comprehensive health insurance. They opt for a basic plan, primarily to comply with standard requirements, disregarding critical features that could offer substantial benefits in times of need.

Undervaluation of Health Insurance

Despite the increasing awareness of health risks post-lockdown, many families continue to undervalue comprehensive health insurance. The Kulkarni family exemplifies this trend. Shubham Kulkarni, 29, works in IT, and his wife Sneha, 27, is a homemaker. They have a newborn daughter. Their focus remains on enhancing their standard of living—buying the latest gadgets, upgrading their car, and maintaining a fashionable lifestyle. When it comes to health insurance, they select the least expensive option, covering only basic hospitalizations and minimal outpatient treatments. Their rationale is to have insurance for compliance, not for its real benefits.

Comprehensive Coverage

Families like the Sharmas and Kulkarnis often overlook four crucial health insurance features that can significantly affect their financial and health security:

No Room Rent Capping: A common limitation in basic health insurance policies is the room rent capping, which restricts the amount reimbursed for hospital room charges. This cap can lead to substantial out-of-pocket expenses during hospitalizations. For example, during Rajesh Sharma’s hospitalization, the hospital billed him INR 10,000 per day for a private room. However, his insurance only covered INR 5,000 per day, forcing the family to pay the difference. Without room rent capping, families can choose appropriate accommodation without financial strain, ensuring a comfortable and stress-free recovery.

Worldwide Coverage: In an increasingly globalized world, where travel is common for work and leisure, worldwide coverage is indispensable. Consider the Patel family from Ahmedabad. Neha Patel, 35, a software consultant, frequently travels abroad for work. During a business trip to Singapore, she experienced a severe allergic reaction. Her basic health insurance policy, limited to domestic coverage, left her to bear the entire cost of treatment abroad. A policy with worldwide coverage would have protected her from such unforeseen expenses, allowing for seamless healthcare access regardless of location.

 Wellness Benefits: Modern health insurance plans offer wellness benefits like gym memberships, annual health check-ups, and discounts on medical services, encouraging a proactive approach to health. The Mehta family in Bangalore, with two young children, prioritizes fitness and regular health monitoring. However, their basic insurance does not include wellness benefits, causing them to miss out on valuable health incentives. A policy offering wellness benefits could help families like the Mehtas integrate healthier lifestyle choices into their routines without additional costs. The families can gain premium cashbacks during renewals which is a very important benefit missed out by majority of the policyholders

Coverage for Modern Treatments: Advancements in medical technology have introduced modern treatments that are more effective but often expensive. Basic health insurance policies might not cover these cutting-edge procedures. For instance, the Singh family faced a financial challenge when their 10-year-old son required robotic surgery for a complex medical condition. Their insurance covered only traditional surgery, leaving them to finance the additional cost for the advanced procedure. Comprehensive coverage for modern treatments ensures that families can access the best medical care without financial distress.

The perception of health insurance as merely a compliance tool undermines its fundamental purpose - to provide comprehensive financial protection against health-related expenses. Indian families, striving to enhance their lifestyles, often neglect essential features in their health insurance plans, exposing themselves to significant risks. Embracing policies that offer no room rent capping, worldwide coverage, wellness benefits, and coverage for modern treatments is crucial. These features ensure that families can maintain their health without compromising their financial well-being, ultimately supporting their long-term aspirations and quality of life. It’s time for modern Indian families to view health insurance as a vital investment in their future, not as an unnecessary expense.

(The writer is a Financial Educator with 15-plus years of experience, a published author, a TEDx Speaker who hosts multilingual podcast shows ‘LaxmiGyaan Library’ & ‘A Sip of Finance’)  

Share this