Take cover from the Silent Killer

Buying diabetes-specific insurance plans is now easier

A swift change in the lifestyle habits of Indians is taking a severe toll on their health. As per a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, India’s total healthcare spending in the financial year 2019-20 was at 3.6% of GDP.

This is mostly because the country carries along a significant share of several critical health issues, the most severe being diabetes. Also known as the ‘silent killer’, diabetes is one such condition that severely impacts an individual’s life, both physically and financially.

Unfortunately, India currently accounts for 50% of the world’s diabetes burden, with an estimated 78 million cases of diabetes. Considering the current pace at which the number of diabetes cases are rising in India, the figure is expected to reach up to 100 million by the end of 2030 in the 20-79 age group. It is also learnt that Indians develop diabetes at a much younger age than other races of the world.

A costly affair

Diabetes is a chronic illness that mostly occurs when your body is unable to metabolise the sugars and starch present in the human body efficiently. As a result, sugar starts to build up in the blood and reaches high levels of concentration.

High blood sugar can have detrimental effects on your body. Diabetes is classified into two different categories — Type 1 and Type 2. You can control diabetes through medication, strict diet and regular exercise.

However, due to rising medical costs, diabetes management can be expensive as it entails medication that can turn out costly, frequent doctor visits, and sugar monitoring tests. As patients age, the probability of hospitalisation also rises for diabetics. At the same time, dealing with the economic impact of diabetes is equally important.

On an average, a diabetes patient may have to spend in the range of ₹8,000-10,000 a month, including on tests, medicines, insulin shots, customised diet. As per a study by the Association of Physicians of India, the people in urban and rural parts of the country spend 34% and 27% of their income, respectively, on the treatment of diabetes.

An efficient solution

An effective solution to the meet the rise in cost of treatment of diabetes is securing yourself with a comprehensive health insurance policy. A plan with an adequate sum insured is enough for an individual to meet all the hospitalisation expenses arising out of diabetes. There was a time when buying a plan to cover diabetes was a daunting task. Initially, people had to undergo mandatory physical medical tests to buy medical insurance, and had to serve a waiting period of 24-48 months to get coverage for diabetes. Moreover, people with long-standing diabetes or severe conditions were often denied coverage for the condition.

In the last few years, with the change in underwriting policies, it has become easier for people to buy health insurance plans to cover diabetes. Insurers now issue health cover to diabetics through three different options which include tele-medical, policy on the basis of past medical reports and through Straight Through Process — completely on the basis of customer declarations.

With such changes and to make sure adequate coverage is available for diabetes and other possible illnesses, insurers have come up with plans that provide coverage for diabetes from Day 1. Customers suffering from Type 1 or 2 diabetes, people on insulin, and those suffering from long-standing diabetes can now easily buy a health insurance policy with or without a waiting period.

However, customers must note that health insurance covers that come without a waiting period are slightly more expensive than regular health covers which come with a defined waiting period.

A quick glance at pricing

With numerous changes in the underwriting process, the pricing of various health insurance policies that offer adequate coverage for diabetes has become quite affordable. While buying a health insurance cover for the ailment, you may choose a policy as per the waiting period you wish to serve.

For a 35-year-old individual, a health insurance cover is available ranging from ₹6,500- 11,500 per annum for a sum insured of ₹5 Lakh. A comprehensive health insurance policy that comes with a waiting period of four years to cover diabetes can be bought for an annual premium as low as ₹6,600. Similarly, plans with three-year and one-year waiting period for diabetes are available for an annual premium of ₹8,100 and ₹9,900 respectively. However, people who have severe diabetic conditions and want to avail coverage for the ailment from Day 1, the plan is available for an annual premium of ₹11,400.

All the above-mentioned premiums are applicable to a 35-year-old male residing in a metro city buying a plan with ₹5 lakh sum insured. It is important to note that all health insurance policies provide adequate coverage for diabetes regardless of how long-standing the condition is once the waiting period is served, as there are no other terms attached.

(The writer is Head – Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com)

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