This World Health Day, pledge to make a difference to your body and your wallet

TomorrowMakers ™

This World Health Day, pledge to make a difference to your body and your wallet

07 April 2018
Did you know you can earn rewards and discounts on your health insurance plan for being fit and healthy? Here's how to make the most of them

People usually buy health insurance to ensure that their hospital bills are reimbursed. But, in recent times health insurance providers seem to be thinking beyond the conventional needs of their customers and are changing the way people look at health insurance. Health insurance is no longer considered as merely a tool to safeguard against medical emergencies, but it is now used to boost preventive care and to encourage customers to stay healthy and fit. 

Health insurance providers today have started offering money to policyholders – although indirectly and in the form of discounts on premiums – to stay fit. Apparently, they are very keen to see that their clients don’t land up in hospital. The rationale? A fit client will have less chance to be hospitalised, thereby saving on the expense of reimbursement.

For policyholders, it’s a win-win situation. Apart from reimbursement of steep medical bills if they are hospitalised, now they can also expect some bonus if they are not hospitalised. Welcome to the world of ‘reward points’ and ‘discounts’, where holders of health plans are paid a small amount today so that they don’t have to be reimbursed a lot later.

Related: Here's how getting healthy today can save you additional costs later

Wellness programmes

Different insurers have drawn up their own ‘wellness programmes’ to keep track of the fitness levels of their policyholders. On meeting the acceptable standards, the latter are rewarded with points and discounts. Incidentally, these offers are completely legal and in line with the guidelines of the insurance regulator, the IRDAI, which in its 2016 guidelines allows insurers to offer discounts on out-patient (OPD) consultations or treatment at hospitals and pharmaceuticals.

Each ‘point’ is given a monetary value, and these can be collected and redeemed during OPD consultations and medical tests (at hospitals). Discounts are available on policy premiums, which can be in the 8-30 percent range. Significantly, insurance policies do not generally cover these expenses. Some of the ‘stay-fit’ schemes are discussed below, though the list does not claim to be exhaustive. Readers are advised to keep these rewards schemes in mind while comparing various health plans.

Related: Understanding your Health Insurance policy

ICICI Lombard: Rewards clients for a healthy lifestyle, which it tries to promote through specially designed wellness activities. The reward is in the form of wellness points. Each point is worth Rs 0.25 and is awarded for various wellness activities, including preventive health checkups, gym workouts/yoga, and active participation in sporting events organised by the insurer. The points can be accumulated and redeemed against OPD medical expenses such as consultation fees, medicines, and diagnostic expenses, or even dental costs – which are not covered by medical insurance. Participating in a marathon can get you 2500 wellness points, while membership in a gym or yoga class will earn a cool 8000 points. The reward for quitting smoking: a maximum of 100 points.

Aditya Birla Health Insurance: Offers cashback benefits, which it calls ‘health returns’, under its Active Health Enhanced Plan. Under this plan, points are offered for working out and staying active to remain fit, and rewards are allotted on the basis of a medical checkup after 90 days of purchasing the policy. The policyholder’s activity level determines his or her rating; the better the rating, the greater are the chances of a higher cashback, which can go up to 30 percent of the annual premium and is credited to the health account of the policyholder each month. To be eligible for the 30 percent cashback, the insured should be active for more than 13 days a month.

Related: Why Insuring your Health is a Smart Decision?

Bajaj Allianz: Has launched a wellness platform called Pro-fit, which claims to act as a one-stop solution to all health-tracking needs of customers, apart from helping them set and adhere to positive daily goals such as walking. The platform keeps a tab on the number of steps taken and is connected to Google Fit (Android) and HealthKit (iOS). It also displays weekly statistics to keep you motivated about your progress. Rewards include free medical and diet-related consultations, OPD discounts at network hospitals/diagnostic centres, discounts on medicines and consultations with dentists and ophthalmologists.

Apollo Munich‘Energy’ plan is positioned as a wellness management plan for diabetics, especially individuals with type 2 diabetes, impaired fasting glucose (IFG), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), and/or hypertension. The plan is unique in that it offers coverage for all hospitalisation arising out of diabetes and hypertension from the outset – there’s no waiting period. This combined package provides coverage for in-patient hospitalisation expenses, along with a wellness programme and health rewards. Policyholders can earn up to 8 percent renewal discount by using Apollo’s Health Jinn app, which counts the number of steps walked daily.

Related: What’s your resolution for the new financial year?

Tips to reduce health insurance premium and overall costs

  • Opt for a higher deductible: This is the amount you pay from your pocket for the covered health care services. Higher the deductible, lower the premium
  • Buy a top-up plan for high coverage: Split the cover and buy a rider or a top-up plan along with the basic sum assured
  • Choose family floater plans: Covering two or more people under the same plan ensures a more affordable premium
  • Multi-year premium payment: It reduces the premium amount and you can good discounts
  • Buy online: Compare multiple insurance providers for the best deals on premium, riders, coverage, etc. This can also save agent’s fees

Related: Why should you opt for a family floater health plan?

Last words

If you are thinking of buying health insurance or changing your insurer, you should be careful not to get carried away by the lure of discounted premiums offered by competing insurance companies. Health insurance, after all, should be bought on the basis of policy features and the insurer’s claim settlement history, not on discounts the company is offering. But at the same time, keep in mind that while the discounts may be aimed at bringing down insurers’ claims ratio and reimbursement outgo, they are also successfully encouraging people to develop healthy habits. When was the last time you were offered sops for staying fit?

Disclaimer: This article is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as insurance or legal advice. You should separately obtain independent advice when making decisions in these areas.

 
 

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