From Director’s Desk | Anirudh Dar
While researching for a presentation on retirement planning for a Miniratna CPSE company comprising executives in their mid 40s, I came across a startling fact. In 2001, a study by the World Bank pointed out that at least 24 percent of all people hospitalised in India in a single year slipped below the poverty line because they were hospitalised without having any sort of health insurance. A more recent report on out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure in India, published about a year ago, suggested that 70 percent of healthcare expenses incurred by Indians are from their pockets, of which 70 percent is spent on medicines alone, leading to impoverishment and indebtedness. Despite these startling facts, less than 1/5th of Indians are covered by health insurance. What possibly could be the reason for such a low health insurance penetration? Do we not value our health? Or do we truly believe that we will never fall ill? In my countless interactions with clients, they have forever insisted that the health cover given to them by their employers is sufficient and they haven’t felt the need to enhance it just yet. Well, believe this – when you retire and one day you will, this employer health cover will cease to exist and while you may be eligible to buy a new health policy then, the question remains whether your health will allow you to buy one. If you are 45 now and wait till retirement to buy an additional cover, can you be entirely sure that you will not have an untoward health hazard between now and then that may make you ineligible to take any sort of health insurance later in life. In a recent training session by a health insurance company, I learnt that the largest COVID claim settled in India via a health policy was about Rs.21 lacs. Imagine being the person who didn’t have health insurance or relied on the limited health cover from their employer. Health Insurance does not cost an arm and a leg. It is more affordable than you believe. It will not prevent you from falling ill, but it will surely prevent burning a hole in your pocket should something unfortunate happen.