7 key tips to save money on health insurance premiums

To chart out a personal finance strategy without factoring in unexpected medical expenses is practically impossible in today’s world. It wasn’t too long ago when the world experienced an unparalleled health crisis in the form of a deadly pandemic, the after-effects of which can still be felt with long-term health issues. On top of that, the cost of healthcare is rising across the world.

The biggest factor is that the medical inflation rate is a lot higher than overall inflation. In India, the cost of hospitalisation roughly doubles every five years. It will, therefore, be nothing short of negligent to not have health insurance in the times we live in. However, often buyers also wonder about its cost and if there’s a way to bring that down. Fortunately, with a few simple tips, one can bring down their health insurance  premium.

Start as early as possible: It is important to start your health insurance journey early in life. Health insurance premiums are lower for young people because they are considered to be a low-risk category. This is because younger people are less likely to have chronic health conditions. They do not generally require expensive medical care. Once you purchase a health insurance plan, your premium will remain the same for the duration of the policy. Even at the time of renewal, the hike in premium is marginal. This means that if you start early, you can lock in lower premiums for many years to come.

Choose the right add-ons: Dealing with health concerns has become an unavoidable aspect of our lives in the times that we live in. Whether it's a minor health issue or a more significant ailment, consulting a doctor is a necessity. On average, individuals can expect to spend around ₹1500-2000 annually on doctor visits. However, a wise move would be to consider a plan that includes coverage for OPD expenses, encompassing doctor consultations. This ensures enough coverage, even if the cost of consultations increases over the course of the policy term.

Maximise tax benefits: Throughout history, tax rebates have served as an incentive for consumers to choose insurance options. Health insurance, in particular, offers the added advantage of a tax rebate under section 80D. By presenting proof of the premium paid for your health insurance policy, you can potentially save up to ₹25,000 in taxes for yourself, your spouse, and your dependent children. 

Furthermore, if you contribute to the premium for both senior citizen parents, the allowable maximum limit for deduction increases to ₹50,000. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned, and saving on taxes directly contributes to your earnings.

Go for an affordable plan: Choose a plan that suits your budget. Now, the market offers several affordable plans that provide good coverage. This essentially means getting good value out of a low-sum-insured plan too. For instance, if your budget allows you to opt for a sum insured of ₹5 lakhs, there are good options available within this range by several insurers. You can simply opt for this coverage and not opt for the additional features that you don’t need.

Use wellness benefits to your advantage: Choose health insurance plans that reward you for leading a healthy lifestyle. Some insurers offer discounts for staying fit, getting regular health check-ups, or participating in wellness programs. Health insurance isn’t just designed for the unwell or the elderly. The inclusion of wellness benefits in health insurance policies serves as a reward system for policyholders who prioritise staying in good health. This might involve activities like app-monitored wellness, step tracking, or keeping a record of physical exercises. 

Meeting the standards established by insurers makes policyholders eligible for various benefits, such as renewal discounts, redeemable vouchers, or reward points for undergoing health check-ups. Remarkably, meeting the specified fitness criteria could even lead to a 100 per cent discount on the premium during the renewal period.

Opt for co-pay and deductibles if necessary: Co-pay means a fixed amount you need to contribute every time you avail of a covered medical service. It is typically represented as a percentage of the total service cost. For instance, with a co-pay of 20 per cent, if the total expense for a medical treatment is ₹1 lakh, you'd personally bear ₹20,000. Deductible signifies a fixed amount you're responsible for paying before your insurance kicks in. 

Once this threshold is met, your insurance covers the remaining costs of covered medical services up to the policy limit. Opting for a health insurance plan with higher co-pay and deductible amounts can lead to a reduction in your annual premium. However, this approach means more out-of-pocket expenses in case you require medical care.

Compare plans from multiple insurers:
 Don't just renew your current plan without shopping around first. Compare plans from multiple insurers to see if you can find a better deal. The internet is your friend. Take advantage of it by comparing health insurance plans online.