ASAP (As soon as possible) — these four words are the answer to the above question. Many people consider their current health state as an ‘excuse’ for not buying a health insurance policy. Those who are already covered under corporate health insurance policy are in no mood to go for a health insurance policy. And some who have purchased the policy are constantly pondering if it is worth renewing the policy every year. According to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), as against 92.67 lakh policies due for renewal, only 74.79 lakh policies were renewed during 2014-15.

Sadly, there is only a very small section of the society which considers health insurance as an asset and understands the benefits of buying one. Here, I would like you to know about my friend Rahul, 26, who was living a content life after securing a managerial job with a leading IT company. While he understood the importance of buying a health insurance, he never bought one for himself as he thought his corporate health insurance was enough to cover medical expenses in case any misfortune happened.

After working for four years in his current company, he resigned to join a new company that offered him 20% hike on his current salary. After the last day at the office, he still had 10 days more before joining the new company. In anticipation of a demanding and stressful routine at his new workplace, he thought of making the most of the 10-day period and embarked on a vacation to his cousin’s place.

Unfortunately, during this vacation period, he met with an accident on his way back from a restaurant with his cousin. Some passersby took them to a nearby hospital where they both remained hospitalized for a week. As Rahul was not employed at that time, he was not under the policy coverage of either the previous employer or the new employer and all the medical expenses had to be paid from personal savings. On the other hand, Rahul’s cousin had an individual health insurance which took care of his medical expenses.

Rahul is not the only one who is guilty of ignoring health insurance. Even though, you can’t put a price tag on your body or health, you can at least estimate medical expenses in case something goes wrong. In such a scenario, a small fee paid towards your health insurance premium can go a long way in protecting your hard-earned money.

The Rising Medical Cost

Medical emergency seldom comes with a warning, and in the current scenario, we all are exposed to various health hazards. While age-related ailments are inevitable, the young generation is also not immune to health issues, notably, the lifestyle-related diseases. It is the outcome of fast paced life that health issues like hypertension, diabetes, cancer, etc, which were earlier associated with people above 50 years of age, are now more prevalent among people below 40 years of age.

Today, a medical emergency can strike anyone and anytime, irrespective of the age, gender, or place. From newborn to youngsters, and elderly people, medication plays an imperative role in the well-being of individuals.

The healthcare costs are rising at an unprecedented rate and there is no running away from it. Typically, diseases like cardiovascular ailments, cancer, diabetes, etc are some of the major causes of deaths in India. Further, fighting these diseases is a costly affair. For instance, Herceptin, one of the major drugs used in the treatment of breast cancer, costs between Rs 75,000 and Rs 1 lakh for a 440 milligram vial. A cancer patient may require 6 to 17 vials for treatment.

Further, the health care is becoming less invasive and costlier due to the use of latest medical technology and equipment. With hospitals spending crores of rupees on super-specialty equipment and robotics, the cost is passed on to patients. Additionally, there are other expenses like Intensive Care Unit, food, and commuting of patients/relatives, which only add to the misery of the patients. Not everyone will be able to afford the medical costs and even those who are fortunate enough to afford the treatment; it would mean spending a bulk of their savings. Amid the changing situation, living without a health insurance is harmful to both your physical and financial health.

Health Insurance Is A Saviour

The only solution to tackle this problem is by buying a comprehensive health insurance which offers protection from sudden and unexpected medical costs or critical ailments which would otherwise leave a major dent into our savings and sometimes borrowing also in some cases.

All health insurance plans come in two variants:
•    Individual: It is a separate insurance policy for an individual with defined benefits
•    Family floater: It covers the entire family in a single plan

For instance, HDFC ERGO’s health insurance policy— Health Suraksha with Regain and ECB can be purchased both as an individual or family floater option.

Delay In Buying Health Insurance Can Prove Costly

There is a popular saying, “Buy health insurance when you don’t need it because you might not get it when you need it”. Many people decide to buy health insurance only when they experience some health issues. However, it is important to understand that insurance is a tool to mitigate risk by transferring risks from the individual to the insurance company. If the insurer finds out your current health ailment or condition then they can refuse to offer you a policy. Even if the insurer company offers the policy, they might charge a high premium. Beyond a point, there are limited choices available for a customer and they are forced to buy the policy from whatever option is available.

Take A Step Now

Do not wait for any accident or ailment to surface which forces you to go out for buying a health insurance. Further, you don’t want to take hasty decisions for an important policy like health insurance. Even if you are covered under a corporate insurance policy, you should go for an individual policy because the latter will expire the moment you leave the organization.

In today’s highly uncertain world, a seemingly small condition at times can become a major one. In such a situation, a comprehensive health insurance policy keeps you afloat during difficult times. So, irrespective of your age and health, the best time for you to buy health insurance is NOW!