Why women should not take health insurance only to get maternity benefits?

From politics to armed forces, women in India have crossed all barriers to make major participation in the development of the country, but what about their own health? While successfully creating a balance between personal and professional life, women somewhere miss out on their own health care.

As per the IRDAI Insurance Awareness Survey Report, 2012, merely 39 percent of women opt for individual health insurance. Another survey by a health insurance company strengthens the fact that women are still dependent upon their male family members when it comes to taking a health policy, and are mere floaters. 39 percent of respondents under the survey depended upon their father or husband for buying a health insurance policy.

Though the awareness for health insurance has improved among women, thanks to health care sessions in public and private sectors, a large number of them go for it only for maternity benefits. A health insurance policy that provides coverage for maternity benefits is a good idea, but what if it fails to give coverage when you actually require it or when there are other health issues? Like it happens in the below case:

Leena Datt, who was about to turn 30 in few months took a health insurance policy hoping that it will cover maternity expenses, without having an idea that her insurance had the minimum waiting period of 2 years for maternity benefit claims. She was not wrong in her intentions to take health insurance for maternity benefits, but she should have planned for it well in advance with more understanding of policy clauses. Also, taking health insurance policy just for maternity benefits led her to a situation where she ended up paying higher premiums for lesser overall benefits.

There are many women like Leena Datt in India who take health insurance policy in a hurry just for maternity benefits without considering much about its long-term advantages in terms of the coverage of other diseases.

Many studies have revealed the fact that women in India are prone to several critical diseases, which they develop with growing age. Health insurance can make them better prepared for the treatment of such diseases if needed.

  • According to a survey by Breast Cancer India, 16 percent of breast cancer patients fall in the 30 to 40 age group, while the risk increases with age, as 25 percent of women with breast cancer are in the 40 to 50 age group.
  • As per the International Osteoporosis Foundation, the lifetime risk for osteoporosis fracture in women is 30-40 percent worldwide, while the risk is 15-30 percent among men. Also, one out of three women in India suffers from Osteoporosis.
  • According to a report in NCBI, about 25 percent rural and 33 percent of urban Indians are hypertensive.
  • Gestational diabetes is on the rise among pregnant women in India. While in developed countries, the prevalence is almost 7 percent, in India, it is 16-17 percent as per an article in the Times of India.
  • An alarming revelation is made by a Saffolalife study 2015 that 61 percent of women in India are at the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
  • According to a study by Lancet, the number of women with diabetes has increased by 80 percent from 1980 to 2014.

With women being more prone to such critical diseases, it is all the more important for them to have a health insurance policy for themselves. It’s always good to get health coverage under individual health insurance that not only provides maternity benefits but long-term advantages with lesser premiums. Further, the cost of hospitalization and treatment in India has increased considerably over the years, propelling women even more to take individual health insurance policy.

Individual health insurance can help you in being your own health manager

Many women are under the impression that corporate health coverage is enough to cover all their health expenses, but it is not without loopholes. What when they retire? What when they change the job and another employer doesn’t provide medical insurance? Further, different corporate insurance may not sufficiently cover the overall cost of surgeries, test, and other medical procedures. In such cases, individual health insurance can help a woman in:

  • Enjoying a flexible health insurance coverage depending upon individual health condition.
  • Long-term insurance till old age with the yearly renewal policy
  • Cashless hospitalization in most cases, without the need of liquidating assets or terminating fixed deposits.
  • Tax exemption benefits under section 80D of the Income Tax Act.

Individual health insurance is as important for women as for men and should be taken with proper consideration, without getting carried away by short-term maternity benefits.