How the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the requirement of health insurance in our lives?

March 26, 2021

How the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the requirement of health insurance in our lives?

With more than 10,000 coronavirus cases being reported, on an average, across India in Feb 2021, the pandemic has caused mayhem. Till date there are more than 10 million cases in the country, with as many as 1.55 lakh fatalities. The global figures for active coronavirus cases are staggering: in October, global coronavirus cases increased to 108 million, with 2.70 lakh new cases being reported, each day, in the third week of the month. India along with the United States and Brazil are among the worst affected countries. 

Coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses known as Nidovirus. The same family of viruses have earlier caused illnesses, like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Even the common cold is caused by the same family. But, this new strain of the virus was previously not identified in humans. As such, it is called Novel Coronavirus. The virus originated in the Wuhan province of China, towards the end of 2019, and spread rapidly across the globe.

With scores of people being affected by the disease, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) issued a circular to all general and health insurance companies to provide coverage for coronavirus, with common policy terms and fast-track claim settlements. The outbreak of the pandemic also brought a marked shift in the perception of people about availing of health insurance policies. The disease negatively impacted the economy and resulted in huge financial losses to people. This along with the rising cost of hospitalisation and associated medical costs, in the case of being diagnosed with coronavirus, has resulted in more awareness and willingness about availing of health insurance plans. 

According to a recent COVID-19 survey, conducted across 11 cities, including the four metropolitan cities, now around 71% of the people believe that health insurance is a must. This is a far cry from the pre-COVID-19 scenario, where merely 10% of the people considered health insurance policies as a necessity against unforeseen medical emergencies. What’s more? People are now willing to even pay more premiums to buy the best health insurance plans. 

How can you protect yourself from coronavirus? 

India has now entered a phase, where the lockdowns are being removed in a phased manner. As the disease spreads through droplets, when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and even through surface contact, you must follow guidelines, like social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising your hands frequently. Alongside, it is equally important to avail of the best health insurance plans immediately. This is because you can never overrule the element of chance - despite following the guidelines - of catching the disease. Health insurance will act as a protective financial shield against the pandemic. 

Existing health insurance scenario in India: According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, insurance reach was low in India, with an overall insurance penetration of 3.69% in 2017. As per a report from the 10th Global Conference on Actuaries, health insurance is largely an untapped market in the country. Around 15% of the country, 1.1 billion people are covered under health insurance. But, a large majority of this 15% comprise those covered under Government-sponsored health insurance schemes.  

How the pandemic has highlighted the importance of availing of health insurance?

  • Foremost, the pandemic has created a change in the mindset of people by making them realise that getting infected by the disease has now become a distinct possibility. While earlier, health insurance was considered as optional, often at the lower rungs of an individual’s hierarchy of needs, now it has become a priority. With the panic-like scenario surrounding the disease, people now believe that availing of health insurance policies is more of a necessity than an option. 
  • Earlier people thought that they could meet the costs of a medical emergency through their savings. Also, a large number of people believed that their corporate health insurance cover would be enough to provide coverage. The outbreak of coronavirus has changed these perceptions. 
  • With the rapid rise in coronavirus cases, people recognised the fact that health insurance is as important as taking proper care of their health. The best health insurance policy would not only allow them to live a healthier life, but also allow access to quality health care. In the long run, health insurance would protect their financial goals. With medical inflation increasing at double the rate of overall retail inflation, people now understand that the cost of availing of medical treatment, in the case of testing positive for coronavirus, will leave their financial health in shambles. A key advantage of the best health insurance policy for coronavirus is that it will cover a wide slew of medical expenditure, like pre and post hospitalisation expenses, COVID-19 hospitalisation expenses, homecare treatment prescribed by a medical practitioner, ICU costs, treatment for comorbidities and access to alternative treatments such as AYUSH.

Conclusion:

Thus, the outbreak of coronavirus has changed the mindset of people about availing of health insurance policies. With an unforeseen medical emergency becoming a distinct possibility, people have now realised the importance of health insurance. Before buying a policy, you must select a trusted and reliable health insurance company. You can zero in on ICICI Bank's health insurance policy, which has a wide range of benefits, like standard COVID-19 policy, flexible sum insured and coverage for home care.

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