Buying health insurance close to retirement may be tough

5 MinsApr 21, 2021

Ravi Shankar, 58, has just retired. His health insurance coverage provided by his company, expired the day he retired. Ideally, he should have bought an individual health policy or family cover while still working and being covered by his employer's group insurance scheme. But he didn't do that and is now finding it difficult to buy a policy. Let’s take a look at a few challenges that he is going through and what he can do to resolve them.

health insurance for senior citizens

1.  High premium: Anyone over 55 years who wants to buy a health insurance policy may have to pay a higher premium. This is because older people are perceived to have higher health risks than youngsters. Ravi's premium at 55 years, would be around 30% higher than if he would have purchased a policy at say between 45 and 50 years.

2.  Compulsory check-ups: When Ravi was insured under his company’s policy, he only had to fill out a simple form attesting to his fitness. Now that he is buying an individual health insurance policy, it is likely that he would have to undergo a full physical check-up.

3.  Waiting period: Most health insurance policies have a waiting period. During this period, you may not get covered for certain ailments. While the waiting period varies from insurer to insurer, it is usually longer for older individuals, or for ailments that are common among older individuals. There are some conditions for which this duration may extend to 2-3 years. Ravi too may face such a situation.

4.  No pre-existing illness coverage: Most health insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart ailments. If they do, the premium could be much higher than other policies. Since Ravi has diabetes, his ailment may not be covered.

[Also Read: Six ways to save money on your health insurance premium]

There are a few things that Ravi can do to address these challenges.

1.  Get covered under his son or daughter’s insurance policy: Most health insurance companies offer family floater plans that cover dependent parents. Since Ravi has retired, he qualifies for this if his son or daughter buys a family floater plan. He can also be covered under the group insurance policy offered by their employers.

2.  Opt for co-payment: Co-payment is a clause that lets the individual share a part of their medical expenses with the insurance company. Insurance companies are more willing to cover older people if they sign up for a co-payment. This will help reduce the premium for Ravi.

3.  Buy a long-term plan: A senior-citizen health insurance policy is a good choice for Ravi. This policy can offer him coverage until the age of 80 years, while a basic plan will cover him only until he is 65 years old.

4.  Evaluate multiple policies: There will be policies that have lower waiting periods but with higher premiums. Ravi needs to take a call on what is important to him. Ideally, paying the extra premium for a long-term policy with a short waiting period is worthwhile, as one's health usually worsens after 65-70 years.

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