Things to know while buying health insurance for women

When it comes to women, there is an increased need for health insurance coverage as women are exposed to gender-specific illnesses.

Women are omnipresent in today’s life. Along with being the primary caregivers to the household, women have started shouldering all responsibilities along with their male counterparts. Women have always been the backbone of the family, but when it comes to their own health, it is often overlooked. This is where insurance comes into play, along with a healthy lifestyle. 

Health insurance plans have become an indispensable part of our lives. With the rising incidence of diseases, both lifestyle and hereditary, juxtaposed with the rising cost of medicine, a health insurance policy become a necessity. The policy covers the financial loss suffered in a medical contingency and offers you financial security. 

When it comes to women, there is an increased need for health insurance coverage as women are exposed to gender-specific illnesses. Ailments like osteoporosis, cancer of the reproductive system, pregnancy-related complications, etc. threaten the health of women. According to ICMR’s latest registry on cancer, breast cancer was the number one cancer with an estimated caseload of 1.5 lakhs in 2016. Moreover, according to WHO’s Globocan 2012, cancer has afflicted 5.37 lakh women compared to 4.77 lakh men. That is why there is a special need for health insurance coverage for women.

Women and health insurance – the common scenario

When it comes to insuring women under health insurance plans, women are, most commonly, covered in the following two ways –

  1. Under a group insurance policy offered by their employers or other groups that they are a part of.
  2. Under a family floater health insurance plan that covers them and their whole family.

Though there are women-specific health insurance plans available, women seldom opt for such coverage. 

Women and health insurance – what the scenario should be:

For an inclusive coverage for women, the following coverage benefits are a must –

  • Maternity coverage which would deal with the cost of pregnancy, child birth and any complication suffered during such time. This coverage, however, is a must for women who want to plan a family in the next few years
  • Coverage is essential for women-specific cancers like breast cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, gestational trophoblastic disease, ovarian cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, etc.
  • Coverage against burns and fractures.
  • OPD coverage for covering minor illnesses that women might suffer from.

Group health plans provide a standardized scope of coverage to all the insured members. Though they are ideal for basic coverage at a lower cost, customizing them for women is difficult. Similarly, in the case of family floater plans, customization is necessary. The existing coverage might not provide the adequate coverage that women specifically need. 

Women and health insurance – the solution

 For ensuring that women are comprehensively covered under a health insurance policy, here are the possible solutions that can be implemented –

  • Group Health Plan:
    If you have a group health plan, you need to supplement it with an independent policy that has the coverage benefits that you need.
  • Family Floater Plan:
    In case of family floater plans, the coverage should be reviewed to check if women-specific coverage benefits are available or not. Check for maternity coverage if you are planning a family anytime soon.
  • Critical Illness Plan:
    A standalone women-specific critical illness insurance policy is also a necessity.
  • Personal Accident Plan:
    A personal accident insurance plan can be availed of for covering women against fractures and burns.
  • Riders:
    There are critical illness and personal accident riders too that are available with life and health insurance policies. You can also opt for these riders with the base policy to enhance the scope of coverage.
    Riders are the cheapest way to enhance coverage to your existing health and life insurance plans. So, if the critical illness rider covers all the women-specific ailments and cancers, it could be opted for.

Women and health insurance – things to keep in mind

If you are gearing up for ensuring comprehensive coverage for women, great! However, before you opt for an independent policy or shuffle up the family floater cover, here are a few points to consider –

  1. Opt for an optimal sum insured. Treatments have become quite expensive and a low cover would result in out-of-pocket expenses. Try and opt for a sum insured of at least Rs.5 lakhs and above. In case of family floater, the coverage should be at least Rs.10 lakhs
  2. If affordability is an issue, opt for super top-up health insurance plans. Choose the deductible that coincides with the existing plan’s sum insured.
  3. A critical illness cover is a must which covers female cancers. You can avail of this coverage as a rider in your life or health insurance plans or as a standalone plan as well.

  4. There is a waiting period for covering maternity and pre-existing conditions. For pre-existing conditions, the waiting period ranges from 2 years to 4 years while for maternity the period ranges from 9 months to 4 years. Check the waiting period before you avail the coverage.
  5. There is a waiting period for specific illnesses too. This period is usually 2 years but do check in your policy for the waiting period and the list of specific diseases covered.
  6. Every health plan has a list of permanent exclusions. Check the list to know what would not be covered under the plan

Women are more empowered today than before. They build careers along with families and leave behind a mark in all spheres of life. Women are the backbone of the family and hence taking care of them is imperative. Thus getting adequate coverage for the woman of the household is of extreme importance especially with the looming fear of Big C and other critical ailments.

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