- Date : 05/02/2019
- Read: 5 mins
Maternity treatments in India can cost anywhere between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5 lakh. Read on to know whether you should consider health insurance with maternity benefits.
Increasingly, career decisions are forcing women to delay motherhood. Nothing wrong with that of course, but this often has a direct fallout: planning for motherhood can get relegated to the background. What this means is that these women – or couples, for that matter – forget to put a financial plan in place for pregnancy, in case they do plan to have children sometime in the future.
Yes, pregnancy can get a tad costly, as regular medical and hospital expenses associated with pregnancy and childbirth can get overwhelming. Plus, late pregnancies can lead to medical complications that can entail additional expenses.
But young people, for whatever reason, are unmindful of all this. As a result, they tend to forget that there is something called health insurance plans, with maternity benefits such as coverage for normal pregnancy, labour, and delivery which can always be bought in advance.
A comprehensive health insurance plan also covers expenses related to the new-born and other related expenses. Sectoral watchdog IRDAI has made it mandatory for insurers to include hospitalization related to childbirth in their health plans, so why not avail of maternity benefits that come with health insurance for pregnant women?
So, because they often ignore this option, young couples are forced to dig into their savings or take out a loan to meet hospital costs, when there is no need to. The reasons you should consider maternity features in your health plan has been briefly touched upon, let us now look at these in a slightly more detailed manner:
- Delivery Costs: Most maternity insurance plans cover both normal deliveries and cesarean section, along with post-delivery health issues with the mother;
- Pre- and Post-Hospitalization Costs: Usually, such maternity plans offer 30-day cover during the pre-hospitalization phase, and also 60 days of the post-hospitalization period;
- Hospital Stay: Naturally, these maternity plans also cover room charges, fees of the surgeons and post-delivery visits by the same or other attending doctors if any, plus nurses’ fees, anaesthesia and ambulance charges;
- Baby’s issues: Maternity plans also cover newborn babies (of age up to 90 days) for critical illnesses or congenital disorders.
- Vaccination Cover: Some health insurance policies also offer coverage for the expenses incurred on the mandatory vaccinations for the baby – one of the many incremental costs that go to inflate childbirth expenses.
It is important that you have a thorough understanding of “inclusions” and “exclusions” in maternity insurance that is, what the plans cover, and what they do not. This will help you utilize the insurance plan to its optimum. The benefits mentioned earlier are the “inclusions”.
In addition to these inclusions, there are benefits that you should keep in mind as well: easy online application, cashless facility, fast claim settlement, no-claim bonus, and up to Rs 60,000 as tax savings under Section 80D of Income Tax Act.
In the following section, we will consider the “exclusions” – or the conditions that the health insurance providers usually lay down.
These apart, also no covered under the health insurance plans are follow-up diagnostic tests during nine months of pregnancy, tonics and vitamins for the mother or baby, and medical consultation fees for routine check-ups.
If there is insurance involved, there has to be a premium, right? However, as compared to generic health covers, premium rates for maternity insurance plans are higher. This is natural, as you are buying insurance for a situation you plan to get into; it is unlike contracting a critical illness, which is unexpected, and the chances of filing a claim are uncertain. Here, it is a given.
Also, the premium increases as you get older. Thus, it is advisable not to delay buying health insurance plans with maternity benefits if you do have motherhood plans. This is particularly relevant for newly-married people planning to have a child in the next a few years. An early move means maternity coverage at an affordable premium.
Apart from premium rules, you should know about the Waiting Period and the Pre-existing Clause.
The first is a specific time span during which you cannot avail of the maternity coverage under health insurance policy; such plans do not provide maternity benefits when the policy is bought, but only after a few years (maybe two to six years, depending on the insurer).
The Pre-existing Clause disqualifies an already pregnant woman from availing a new maternity coverage. Thus, to avail of this coverage, it is advisable to buy a policy at least two years before planning to conceive a child.
When it comes to acquiring for yourself a maternity plan and manage the expenses, the key point to remember is not to make maternity cover the only criteria for purchasing your health insurance plan; look at the plan in its totality to see how best you can benefit from it.
However, if you are planning on a health insurance plan with maternity benefits, first satisfy yourself on aspects already mentioned, such as the waiting period, inclusions and exclusions, premium and other coverage details. For instance, Max Bupa offers “Heartbeat Family Floater Plan” - maternity benefits up to 2 years; new-born automatically insured without an increase in premium. “Star Health Wedding Gift Pregnancy Cover” offers newborn baby care.
Many employers offer health insurance plans with maternity benefits to their staff; if you enjoy this facility from your employers, it is advisable to file claim from that plan without touching your own health insurance policy, unless you fall short.
One thing you must remember is that no maternity insurance provider covers an already pregnant woman. So, choose the time to purchase a maternity plan prudently, making sure it is long before you plan motherhood. This also takes care of the waiting period associated with every plan.
Just remember, when you plan to become a parent, you are taking on a whole new range of financial responsibilities. Go about it wisely. A maternity insurance plan is the first step.