Recent years have taught us a great lesson that life is unpredictable. Even if you eat the right food and exercise regularly, you can never guarantee that you will never get sick. Despite our best efforts, our bodies still develop health issues over time.
A situation like this calls for a health insurance plan. It will take care of your medical costs - while letting you concentrate on your health. Although there is no mandatory rule regarding when to buy health insurance, delaying the purchase comes with its own downsides. This is because you become more prone to illness as you age - increasing the risk for insurers.
Having said that, what is the maximum age limit to buy health insurance? And, what are the drawbacks of taking health insurance at a later stage in life? Let’s see.
First, What is Health Insurance?
ThereHealth insurance is the financial safety net that protects you against unforeseen medical expenses. It covers expenses related to in-patient hospitalisation, pre and post-hospitalisation, daycare procedures, health check-ups, domiciliary and home care treatments, etc.
It is basically a contract between you and the insurer. The insurer covers your healthcare expenses according to the sum insured you’ve chosen and the policy T&Cs. In return, you need to pay regular premiums.
What Is The Maximum Age To Buy Health Insurance?
The maximum entry age for health insurance plans varies from insurer to insurer. Some insurance companies in India offer health insurance policies to people aged 65, whereas some insurers even offer plans to people over the age of 65 years.
However, if you're buying a policy at an older age, you might find it challenging to get a health insurance plan that's both affordable and effective. Let’s see why
Disadvantages Of Delaying Health Insurance Purchase
Here are five drawbacks of delaying buying a health insurance policy -
Rising Medical Costs
The cost of medical care is rising due to a number of factors, including medical inflation, increasing cost of medications and medical equipment, advanced treatments, and demand for medical care. So, accidents and health issues can cost a fortune these days. Moreover, when you are older, health conditions often accompany other complications that prolong hospital stays. So, the resulting hospital bill can wipe out your savings, leaving you with nothing to fall back on.
Lose Out On Benefits
The general perception is that health insurance plans only cover hospitalisation expenses. Therefore, many people put off the decision to purchase health insurance, thinking that they’ll never need hospitalisation. But the truth is that health insurance plans cover much more other than hospitalisations, such as daycare procedures, outpatient expenses etc. Most of the plans also provide maternity benefits, which can be crucial for women during such a major life milestone. Furthermore, a newborn baby is also covered from birth without additional premiums. So, if you buy health insurance at an older age, you may miss out on benefits that would have otherwise been valuable to you.
A waiting period is a period during which the insurer may not cover you for certain medical conditions and illnesses. Health insurance policies generally have a waiting period that can last from a few months to years. So if you purchase a policy in your early years, the waiting period will be over by the time you need to make a claim for medical needs.
If you are young and healthy, insurers may not ask you to undergo medical examinations. However, most insurance companies require individuals above 45 to undergo a medical examination. If your test results indicate any medical issues, they may either reject your health insurance application or charge loading or additional premiums to compensate for the risk.
When you buy a policy at a young age, the insurer may not impose any financial restrictions. On the other hand, if you purchase coverage at an older age, they may apply mandatory financial limits, such as co-pays.
A co-pay is a specific percentage of the claim amount that you need to pay from your end. The remaining amount is paid by the insurer. It is true that a co-pay can help you reduce premiums, but remember you will incur out-of-pocket expenses when filing a claim.
Let’s understand the concept of co-pay with an example:
Samantha buys a health insurance policy with a sum insured of Rs 5 lakhs. Two years later, she undergoes hospitalisation and the medical expenses come to around Rs 50,000. Her health insurance policy includes a co-pay option, under which she is responsible for 20% of the bill. Therefore, when she filed a claim, she was responsible for paying Rs 10,000 from her own pocket (20% of 50,000). The insurer paid the remaining amount of Rs 40,000.
As lifestyle diseases increase, medical expenses rise as well, making it all the more necessary to invest in a good health insurance plan. The upper limit for buying health insurance varies from insurer to insurer. Some insurers offer health insurance policies for individuals over 65, while others may even cover those over 65. However, it is always recommended that you purchase health insurance at an early age - if you want to maximise its benefits.