Indians have misconceptions about health insurance: Survey

Saturday 28, March, 2015 Awareness about health policies was pretty low among Indians, with many still having the misconception health insurance is meant only for the elderly, according to a survey by Max Bupa Health Insurance. The survey, Max Bupa Health Insurance Pulse 2015, noted 40 per cent of the respondents lacked clarity on the process of increasing their sum insured through top-ups and another 40 per cent were not aware of the difference between cashless and reimbursement claims. One-third of health insurance policy holders admitted they had not read their policy documents. In terms of gender-related findings, an increasing number of women are becoming the sole decision makers in buying health insurance (55 per cent). However, two-thirds of them are not aware that infants and in-laws can also be covered under health insurance. The survey noted that Indians tend to buy health insurance quite early in life with 32 years being the average age of health insurance buyers. Fifty-four per cent respondents initiate the buying process on their own without being influenced by agents. Forty per cent of the respondents said they bought health insurance because of rising healthcare costs, while 30 per cent said the health cover provided by their employers was insufficient. The study was conducted to understand how health insurance is perceived, bought and utilised in India. The study was conducted among 1,500 respondents in metros including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and states such as Punjab and Rajasthan. It said six out of 10 Indians prefer family health cover compared to the four preferring individual cover. According to the survey, 70 per cent of those planning to buy health insurance wish to cover their children, followed by the spouse (66 per cent). Nearly 30 per cent of the respondents who are planning a family also think of buying health insurance. Consumers with evolving expectations are now looking at holistic health benefits and comprehensive coverage, rather than the health insurance premium that they pay. Medical inflation and a growing incidence of lifestyle diseases have triggered an increase in the sum assured with a realisation that a health cover of Rs 2-3 lakh will prove insufficient in the future. The study reveals that among all the cities surveyed, the average sum insured is Rs 6.25 lakh and the average annual premium paid is Rs 12,000. "Health insurance consumers are evolving from being price-conscious to being value-conscious with majority of them preferring family health plans over individual coverage and opting for a sum insured of Rs 6-7 lakh," said Anika Agarwal, head of marketing at Max Bupa. According to her, since last year, there has been a two-fold increase in the claims from the segment with a ticket size of Rs 10 lakh.

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