Health insurance and its “waiting period”

A Health insurance premium is the sum paid by the policy holder to the insurance company for a time span specified in the policy contract. This could be either monthly or yearly set as per your convenience. Usually it’s a yearly mode of payment. This amount is to be paid till the policy matures or it may vary from company-to-company like the coverage limit. So while purchasing the policy you can compare quotes to learn about facilities and benefits offered under different plans by different insurance companies before making your final choice.
People usually tend to think that their health premium is enough to survive through the various medical costs incurred during the treatment. But let’s understand that health insurance premium and healthcare cost are two different aspects. Insurance premium is easily affordable as compared to medical care cost. You can choose the policy premium as per the affordability limit but still get access to quality treatment. Unlike this, healthcare cost will increase according to the quality of medical care chosen. On the other hand, premium is to be paid on annual basis or during the time of maturity of the policy and the urgent need of treatment can pose a huge burden of unexpected expenses on your pocket. Therefore, it is always beneficial to pay an affordable premium and relax with a sense of security.
When you sign up for a new health insurance policy, it doesn’t get implemented with immediate effect. The policy comes into effect after a certain period of time known as ‘waiting period’. Waiting period depends on the kind of insurance and other factors, such as age, your medical history and the company. In other words, the insurer is liable to entertain any claim amount filed only after this waiting period.
Please remember that if an individual undergoes an accident or undergoes hospitalization during the waiting period, the customer may not be covered for a loss. The concept of waiting period exists across different kinds of insurance policies, and the quantum of waiting period may vary depending upon the insurer and the nature of the insurance policy.
Following are the broad indicators of waiting period. There is an initial waiting period of 30 days, which goes up to 90 days in some cases, from the effective date of the policy. Some insurance policies may permit treatment for accidental external injuries with a minimum of 24-hour hospitalization.
Pre-existing diseases are generally not covered in the first 2-4 years of the health insurance policy depending on your age and the nature of the policy. A pre-existing disease refers to any medical condition of an individual prior to the commencement of the policy. However, it is good to know that the policy may be effective for any other ailments in the first few years of the policy. Buy any claim filed for illness related to the pre-existing disease will not be covered in the first 1-4 years of the policy as stated in the policy document.
This feature is most common in insurance policies designed for senior citizens. Also, the insurer may insist that you stick with the same insurer if you want the cover to continue without further waiting periods in future.
The next thing then that comes into picture is the ailment-specific waiting period, during which an ailment will not be covered. This again varies from company to company. But some common ailments that involve waiting periods in health insurance plans include ENT disorders, polycystic ovarian diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, hypertension and hernia. These ailments are usually covered only after two years from the date of commencement of the policy.
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