After much delay, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDA) has finally kick started Health Insurance Portability. Very similar to mobile number portability, this facility lets you switch over to another health insurance provider. So for those of you unhappy with your current health insurer, portability could be quite an advantage as it lets you carry forward the existing benefits. Health Insurance portability is now here to stay giving consumers more flexibility. Here is an overview of what they have in store.
Heath Insurance Portability- A New Lease of Life for Consumers
Portability of health insurance lets you switch over from your existing insurance provider to another one, under the same terms and conditions. So as a consumer you would not be required to compromise on your existing benefits or fear losing the waiting period of Pre-Existing Diseases (PED), while opting for the new policy.
The Concept of Pre-Existing Diseases (PED)
Pre-Existing diseases are those health conditions declared at the time of policy initiation. Health Insurers follow a practice of maintaining a waiting period in the initial years of the policy, during which time, such PEDs will not be covered under the policy. Once this waiting period, is completed, the PEDs are included under the policy cover. In the absence of portability, moving over to another insurer meant, losing out on this waiting period. The new insurer would consider you as a fresh customer and would impose his own waiting period on the fresh policy taken.
What to Expect From Portability
Carry Forward of PED - Health Insurance Portability comes as a breather for individuals with a PED. Portability lets you carry forward the PED waiting period, to the new insurer of your choice.
Waiver of Window period - All health insurance policies come with a window period of 30 days, in which time, any disease that arises is not covered. With health insurance portability such a waiting period is waived off.
Accrued Bonus – All accrued bonus of the policy could be carried forward to the new one.
When Would You Require Portability?
Here are a few common reasons when portability could be considered.
Ø Unsatisfactory customer service - When you feel let down by your current health insurer, opting for another one who could offer you better service is definitely beneficial.
Ø Shifting jobs or cities - When shifting jobs your new employer may probably offer health insurance through a different provider. Portability comes in picture here to help you transfer the existing benefits to your new policy. Similarly for those moving cities, wherein the current insurer does not have a service outlet, portability lets you switch over to a new insurer who would be able to service you in that city.
Ø Policy exclusions - Many a times, we sign health insurance policies without giving much thought to the exclusions in the policy. If there is a specific cover you seek which could be exclusion under your current plan, look out for another policy that covers such a thing.
Ø Policy renewal age - The maximum renewal age of policies vary from insurer to insurer. So if you have exceeded the maximum age for renewal under your current policy, check for other insurers who could cover you at your age.
The Ambiguity in Portability
Being a new concept in India, health insurance portability is still in its nascent stages. Though IRDA has prescribed a set of guidelines for the proper functioning of portability, the whole concept sill shows presence of ambiguity. Lack of clarity exists on no claim bonuses, free medical checkups, and portability between indemnity and benefit policies. Also, though waiting period and accrued bonus could be carried forward, compete benefits from earlier insurance company may not be permitted to be carried forward.
Thus, as a consumer, it is wise to be clear of what you seek from you health insurance policy. Do your bit of study on what you expect from your insurer and switch over only if you are sure of getting a better deal from the new policy.
Written by Ramya Ramachandran