A survey conducted by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company recently revealed a high level of lifestyle disorders among young working professionals. What is even more troublesome is the inadequacy of health cover among these professionals. The survey covered 1,100 young professionals aged 23-35 belonging to nine cities. Below we look at the findings of the survey and also offer a few remedies, as suggested by experts.
High incidence of lifestyle disorders
45% of the respondents were found to suffer from one lifestyle disorder or the other. The most common were chronic body pain (40%), obesity (20%), hypertension (18%), respiratory disorders (10%), frequent digestive disorders (8%) and high blood sugar levels (4%).
Heavy reliance on employer-provided cover
While 75% of the respondents had health insurance, 60% of those who were covered had only an employer-provided cover. Experts say that to depend on an employer-provided cover alone is risky. “What if you fall ill when you are in between jobs or get laid off?" asks Ankur Kapur of Ankur Kapur Advisory.
Experts say it is imperative that you buy a personal policy and not depend on the employer-provided cover alone. “Later in life, you may decide to turn into an entrepreneur.
Companies may not be willing to cover you at an advanced age. If you have already contracted some diseases, those will not be covered, or you will have to cross a waiting period before they are covered,” adds Kapur.
Among those who do not possess health insurance, 46% said that it is an expensive cover. But given the high and rising cost of treatment of major illnesses, the annual premium on health insurance is a small price to pay.
Too young to need a cover
22% of those who did not have a personal health insurance policy said they were too young to need such a cover. The high incidence of lifestyle disorders among the young, as revealed by this survey, is evidence enough that one needs adequate health cover from a young age.
The Income Tax (I-T) Act provides deduction on health insurance for self, spouse and dependent children up to Rs 15,000. 76% of those respondents who had a personal health cover said they had bought it primarily for the tax benefit and not so much for protection against illnesses.
The problem with such tax-saving purchases is that they are typically made in haste towards the end of the financial year to avail of the tax benefit. The buyer often does not examine closely the product he is buying. Instances of mis-buying and mis-selling are common. A person could, for instance, buy a critical illness plan instead of a mediclaim plan, which should be the first level of cover.
Employer’s cover regarded as sufficient
The professionals who did not have a personal cover believed that the health cover provided by their employer was adequate. This may not necessarily be so. The sum assured may not be adequate, especially if you live in a metro, where health care costs are high. Many companies no longer include parents. More may drop them from the ambit of coverage in the future to curtail costs.
“The employer-provided cover might not meet your individual health insurance requirements in terms of coverage, number of dependants, definition of family, and your state of health. It is therefore advisable to always have an individual health insurance plan," says Suresh Sugathan, head-health insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company.
If a person does not want to buy a personal mediclaim policy, one option (which is not optimal, however) is to buy a top-up plan. The employer-provided cover then becomes your base plan, and the top-up plan comes into play when your hospitalisation expenses exceed the cover provided by the employer’s plan. Top-up plans are less expensive than general mediclaim plans.