Here's why every woman should get health insurance

: Health insurance for women can ensure protection for not only themselves, but also their loved ones. And it can provide a more secure financial future.

Here's why every woman should get health insurance

From finance to entrepreneurship, politics to technology, women are bringing about changes in the world, alongside men. Over the last few decades, women have slowly, but surely, forged their way into areas that have traditionally been considered “male dominated”.

Looking at the relationship between Women and Money in India, however, you may think otherwise. Only 13% of married working women take their own investment decisions, and the figure is only slightly higher (18%) for single working women.

Sadly, the scenario isn’t much better in the case of insurance, be it life or health. In fact, studies show that women account for only 30% of health and life insurance policyholders in India.

Related: 5 Important reasons why women need life insurance

The Perception of Health Insurance

There are many reasons women don’t buy health insurance-

  • They depend on another for their financial needs- but what happens if they have to fend for themselves?
  • They don’t think they have ‘enough money’ to get a policy, especially at the start of their careers- the longer they wait, the more expensive health insurance gets, and if they happen to contract a serious illness or medical conditions, the chances they will get a policy at all, are very low
  • They would rather save up for more likely, more important life events- but what happens if a major disease strikes, and all that money vanishes overnight?
  • They think it’s alright to delay- but what about waiting period? Did you know that usually, maternity health policies have a waiting period of 5 years before you can claim?
  • They don’t feel they are at as much risk as men- but what about these stats?
    • About 5% to 20% of women in their prime reproductive years suffer from polycystic ovary disease, which can cause complications during pregnancy  
    • 18% of women in their 30s have Type 2 Diabetes
    • Obesity affects 2 times as many women as men in India
    • Both, breast and cervical cancer are said to cause half a million deaths, each, in women worldwide
    • 153.7% increase in incidence of Ovarian cancer, between 1990 and 2013
    • Studies show that one in five women are at a risk of stroke, and yet there is little focus on women’s health
    • A study in 2014 revealed that 3 in 5 Women in India are at high risk of cardiovascular disease as early as 35 years of age, and that number has only increased since then.

The Case of the Home Maker

The Perception Problem

When it comes to insurance, coverage for non-working spouses is often overlooked, especially if the household is in a lower income bracket. But a non-working spouse, whether woman or man, handles a variety of tasks- from cooking and cleaning, to managing budgets and finances, to taking care of the kids.

In case this spouse takes ill and is unable to contribute, you would need to hire multiple people to manage these tasks for the family. This would increase your outflow of expenses by a large amount. If you don’t have health insurance, you would need to dig into your life’s savings to pay for these additional resources AND for medical care for your spouse, which could seriously derail your financial stability.

The Solution

Women, especially homemakers, are usually covered as a dependant under their spouse’s health plan or under group medi-claim that may be provided by their spouse’s employer.

However, research shows that women use more health care services as compared to men, as they have longer lives, are more prone to chronic illnesses and require reproductive care. For instance, studies show that about 38% of women are at a risk of chronic illness as opposed to 30% of men. Yet, less than 40% women have health cover; and only about 22% of that number have individual insurance policies.

In addition, a woman risks losing whatever health cover she has as a dependant on her spouse’s group medi-claim, if her husband loses his job. On the other hand, as a dependant on someone else’s cover, she may not be eligible for several benefits that an individual health cover might offer.

Related: Best ways to improve financial security for women

How much money can Health Insurance save you?

Here’s a look at some of the costs one might have to bear in case of serious diseases:

For heart disease:

  • Bypass surgery= more than Rs. 2 lakhs
  • Valve replacement= more than Rs. 3.5 lakhs

For cancer:

  • Average cost of treatment= Rs. 10 lakhs

For transplants:

  • Lung transplant: Rs. 20 Lakhs
  • Liver transplant: Rs. 18 Lakhs
  • Pancreas treatment: Rs. 17.5 Lakhs

Other important surgeries:

  • Hip replacement: Rs. 4.5 Lakhs
  • Knee replacement: Rs. 4 Lakhs

How Health Insurance helps

By investing in a health insurance policy, women ultimately invest in themselves, and this can offer better health care for a prolonged life. To improve the quality of life for women, many insurance providers have created policies that address women-specific health conditions.

Having health insurance to fall back on, ensures women have the necessary financial help to treat specified conditions if they ever face them, without worrying about costs. Some insurance policies also encourage routine check-ups, which can catch health issues before they become serious.

Related: Health check ups at different stages of life [infographic]

Fortunately, the future of insurance for women is looking good. The insurance market for women in India is expected to increase to $35 billion by 2030. And women show a higher inclination towards protection and prevention, making them more likely to buy insurance as a means of protecting those they love.

Whether married or single, women will almost always have a dependant- husband, children, parents or siblings. To ensure they are around to look after their loved ones, women must care for their own health as well. And choosing a suitable health plan, with the right covers is what can make this happen. 


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