Should NRIs consider buying a health plan in India?

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are Indians who live abroad, mostly for work-related reasons. However, such individuals remain a citizen of India and are eligible to buy a health insurance plan in their home country. Health insurance companies also issue health insurance plans for NRIs who plan their health insurance coverage if they happen to suffer any medical contingency within the geographical boundaries of India. While the plans are available, does it make sense for NRIs to consider buying health insurance in India?

The question does not have a straightforward answer. The relevance of NRIs buying health insurance in India depends on the need for NRIs. Here are different instances which dictate the need for a health insurance plan for NRIs.

When NRIs live abroad and visit India for a very short time

If the NRI spends most of the year abroad, visits India for a limited period and has no plans in the near future to come back, buying a health plan in India would not make sense. In such cases, it is ideal for NRIs to invest in health plans in their own countries since they are likely to suffer medical emergencies there. When they visit India for a short time, they can buy a travel plan in their domicile country that would cover medical emergencies suffered during their trip to India. 

However, buying a health plan is suitable if NRIs have family support in India and they would like to undergo a planned treatment here.

When NRIs live abroad but frequent India and stay for considerable periods of time

A health plan would make sense if NRIs frequent India and stay here for long stretches of time. It would cover medical emergencies they might incur while staying in India. 

When an NRI is about to shift to India in the next couple of years

An NRI looking to shift base back to India is the ideal candidate for health insurance in India. Since the NRI would live in India permanently within a few years, he would need the health plan to guard against possible medical contingencies. Moreover, with lifelong renewability, health plans in India would allow him lifelong coverage too.

When the NRI is thinking of retiring in India

Older NRIs who want to retire to India might invest in a health plan so that the policy covers their medical needs after retirement. It is advisable that they buy a plan beforehand so that they can wait out the pre-existing waiting period for any pre-existing condition that they might have. Also, if the NRI is older, senior citizen health insurance plans might prove more suitable. 

When the NRI is abroad only for a limited period of time

If an NRI is abroad only for a few years and would be returning back to India permanently, a health plan in India is always advisable. Since the international stint is a definite tenure now, opting for adequate health insurance coverage would provide financial security after the NRI settles in India after the stint comes to an end. 

So, if you are an NRI and thinking of investing in a health insurance plan in India, assess your suitability. If the plan suits your needs, you can definitely invest in one for financial security against medical emergencies. The plan would also give you tax benefits on the premium to help you reduce your tax liability in India. 

Things to keep in mind when buying health insurance in India

When considering buying health insurance in India, here are a few aspects that you should keep in mind –

  1. The choice of plans might be restricted
  2. When you are abroad, the health plan bought in India might not cover the medical costs that you incur there
  3. There might be a requirement for pre-entrance health check-ups before the policy is issued
  4. The premiums might be higher
  5. There might be coverage restrictions depending on your medical history. 

Health plans for parents

While buying a health insurance plan for self might need NRIs to consider the aforementioned instances, buying health plans for parents would be a wise choice. If the parents of the NRI stay permanently in India, they would need the plan to cover the financial implications of medical emergencies that they are highly prone to. So, NRIs can invest in a health plan for their parents and give them the financial security that they need. 

So, assess whether you need a health insurance plan in India before you invest in one. While the plan would offer comprehensive coverage, its geographical scope might cause some restrictions. As such, if you need assistance in a foreign country, this particular plan might not come to your aid. You need travel insurance plans for such situations. This could hamper the relevance of the plan. So, to get the maximum out of the health plan, buy it only if it suits your needs. 

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