In the last 5 years or so, India has seen a noticeable change in the way that its health care sector has been growing. One of the most prominent differences between the way it was structured and the way we see the health care sector today is that there are now far more health insurance companies plying their trade. The expansion of the Indian health care sector is nothing if not rapid and it is a sign that the sub-continent is certainly continuing to impress in all of the right places. Health insurance is starting to become the norm in Indian society with an estimated market value of nearly $300 billion estimated by the year 2020. So, it is no surprised that this rapidly expanding industry sector is extremely competitive right now. This article will look at some of the market leaders in this sector and also talk about a number of products and services currently on offer.
Health insurance in India
Although it may have been a long time coming, the advent of health insurance in India is definitely welcomed. It provides the individual and family with protection when they need it most. Medical emergencies don’t usually give an advance warning and they can be extremely costly to say the least. How would you feel if one of your family members was not able to receive the correct medical treatment that they needed just because you hadn’t taken out sufficient medical cover? This is why it is so vital to be able to have the luxury of choice when choosing your medical insurance in India. By looking at the various health insurance companies you can usually make up your mind with regards the best option for you and your family. But before we look at some of the market leading health insurance companies, let’s discuss 3 very good reasons/tips for taking out a policy sooner rather than later:
- Tax benefit – Perhaps not an obvious reason for taking out health insurance in India but certainly it warrants a mention. According to section 80D of the Indian Income Tax Act, it states that if you make a payment that is actually towards health insurance, it can be claimed back as a tax deduction to the amount of up to 15,000 rupees. This is obviously not reason enough to take out such a policy but it is nice to know that the Indian government are behind this way of thinking.
- Start early – It really does make sound financial sense to take out health insurance when you are still young. Essentially you will have less financial outgoings and commitments when you are young but you will also be able to find a better deal as far as health insurance premiums are concerned. The premium will inevitably increase as does your age but at least if you are unfortunate enough to start developing any health issues, they should be already covered by your health insurance policy.
- Health insurance offered by your employer – If you have been offered health insurance as a part of your employment terms then it is obviously a good thing but it is also worth checking if your family is also covered by the policy. Remember that if you decide to leave that job at some point in the future, you will have to adjust your budget to include this outgoing. Most of the major firms in India will offer their staff some form of health insurance and it is quite often part of the overall package that attracts them in the first place.
The leading health insurance companies in India
Although there is no hard and fast rule with regards health insurance, it usually pays to shop around. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) are a trusted source for listing the very best health insurance companies in India and you can usually find plenty of information by following their lead. So, without further ado, let’s look at some of those organisations right now:
Company one – Apollo Munich Health Insurance Company Limited
This large organisation is a combination of two prolific healthcare providers, Munich Health and Apollo hospitals group. They started back in 2007 and the aim was to provide the very best healthcare services for every single Indian no matter what their status was. The company specialises in a broad range of policies that are designed to suit a myriad of lifestyles and income brackets. In a nutshell, Apollo Munich Health Insurance Company aims to be able to bridge the gap between working class and affordable health insurance policies without any dramas. They offer affordable premiums that include a wide variation of cover. Their customers can select the plan that works for them and their family without breaking the bank. They also allow customers to bring their previous health insurance plans to Apollo and integrate them without any extra fuss. Benefits include having your basic sum insured increased by as much as 50% if you complete a claim-free year and if you manage a second year, you can have as much as a 100% increase. Apart from the sales spiel, Apollo does have a very good reputation and they certainly offer plenty of options for those looking for health insurance plans. Definitely one for the short list but remember to ask as many questions as possible because your family’s health is so very precious.
Company two – Star Health and Allied Insurance Co Ltd
This organisation is unique in that they are India’s very first standalone health insurance company. They specialise in a mixture of travel insurance, personal accident and mediclaim. In 2014 they were awarded the ‘Claims Service Company of the year’ award. This was amongst a total of 28 leading health insurance companies in India and their hassle-free approach to providing the very best service was the main reason for this accolade. Star Health and Allied Insurance are able to offer their customers a direct in-house settlement which negates the need to involve any third parties into the claim process. They also have more than 6000 branches across India and offer cashless hospitalisation. When you add this to the fact that they offer some very reasonable rates for their family health policies, it seems like a good move to at least consider this health insurance company for your shortlist.
Company three – Future Generali India Insurance Company Ltd
The third top company that we are looking at in this article happens to be a joint venture between Italy and Indian organisations. Italian Generali Group joined forces with India’s retailers Future Group to create an impressive insurance company. This particular insurance company do their utmost to deliver a better level of customer service to their customers. They also invest heavily in offering a more innovative type of insurance service and product. Based in Mumbai, Future Generali India Insurance Company Ltd is a private conglomerate and part of the major player Future Group who have a presence in over 60 countries worldwide. They believe that ‘Health is wealth’ and this is reflected in the variety of family insurance packages they have on offer. It is hard to disagree with this particular mantra and when you take a closer look at their policies, it is apparent that they follow this code very closely indeed. Future Generali also offers a myriad of car insurance and travel insurance policies that are very popular in India right now.
Company four – Max Bupa Health Insurance Company Ltd
This company is a joint venture between Bupa Finance PLC from the UK and Max India Ltd. Already a major world player in the health insurance arena, Bupa combine their expertise with the local know how of Max India Ltd. They have a number of attractive online plans for their customers and many of these are family focussed. They fully understand that the typical potential customer may be on a salary that may not increase for some time and as such, they offer an inexpensive way to insure the whole family without placing too heavy a strain on the wallet. It’s a smart move to consider Max Bupa Health Company Ltd because they not only have a huge customer base of more than 29 million customers but are have offices in over 190 countries.
Services and products
If we look at a typical Indian health insurance policy plan, we can see that the terms can run from a single year up to many years. These policies are usually discussed and agreed upon before any paperwork is signed and they will vary in almost every single case. The amount insured is also a variable that needs to be factored into how much the insured is expected to need for their coverage but also depends on how much they are able to comfortably afford throughout the life of the policy. Discounts are usually offered after a year or two of the policy running without any claims. They are an excellent incentive and reward the good health of the policy holder with a reduction in outlay. Certain family insurance plans are unique in that they can cover more than a dozen members in the actual policy itself. This is very useful in rural areas where the family may be larger in size than the average modern counterpart. Offer free hospitalisation is another excellent incentive because many customers simply will not be able to access sufficient cash at or after the tie of their illness or accident.
By looking at the examples of Indian health insurance companies here and the sheer potential that this industry sector appears to have, it seems apparent that India is in good hands as far as looking after the health of her people is concerned. Businesses are offering health insurance cover as part of their remuneration package and the competition is fierce. So long as there is always an option for the less than wealthy people to also have adequate health insurance, there is no reason to be worried about how this whole entity will develop. The question may be ‘can the hospitals actually keep up?’ That is another question but so far as health insurance and their products and services are concerned, things are looking good for India right now.