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Which is the Best Health Insurance Plan that nears perfection?

Health insurance is an ABSOLUTE MUST. You are (almost) inviting financial doom, if you and your family are not insured for medical problems.

No protection against exorbitant costs on medical treatments, is as good as having a time-bomb ticking away in your home... you just don't know when it would explode and spread disaster.

The good part is that health insurance policies are readily available and at really dirt-cheap premiums.

The difficult part, though, is that you need to find the good ones among hundreds of policies in the market.

So what attributes should you look for, in a perfect health insurance plan?

The best health insurance policy is one...

... that provides protection against a wide range of medical problems

Logically the best health plan would be the one that provides insurance cover for ALL the ailments, diseases and illnesses. But there are no such policies. Yet, there are many that provide a cover against a large percentage of medical issues. And these should be on your radar. Don't try to cut costs by limiting your cover to lesser number of problems... as long as the premium-to-treatment cost ratio is within reasonable levels. No point in paying too high a premium, that defeats the very purpose of insurance. (See the next point).

... is economical when it comes to premiums

In a typical conventional health insurance policy, the annual premiums are just a small percentage of the average cost of medical treatments. And that is the way it should be. That is what insurance is all about. It would be foolishness to pay hefty premiums, so much so that your total premium payout is almost the same as the cost of treatment. For example, beware of the Absolute Bogus Maternity And OPD Covers.

Best Health Insurance policy is one that supports you in your worst moments.

... will be a lifelong companion and not ditch me when I am old

It is a well known fact that, the need for a health insurance policy increases with age. Because our health issues too add up as we grow old. Therefore, an ideal policy is one that provides facility of lifetime renewal. It shouldn't so happen that the policy comes to an end when you touch 65-70. I think, even if you have to pay an extra premium (or have a co-pay clause), this is one condition on which there should be no compromise.

... is ready to provide 'complete' protection from day one with minimum exclusions

A new policy excludes certain ailments for the first 1-2 years. It also excludes pre-existing illnesses for up to 2-4 years. Thereafter, practically all medical problems get covered (except for some all-time exclusions). You naturally want a vast list of diseases to be insured. You never know what problem may strike you or your family. So, make sure that the list of exclusions is not too long. Some companies may try to lure you with lower premiums, but quietly "exclude" a lot of ailments from insurance.

... is ready with the money when I need it the most

When you or your near and dear ones are suffering, your uppermost worry is to arrange for the best doctors and treatments. Money should be the least of your concerns. And this is a where a good insurance company makes the difference. It offers you the cashless facility, whereby all expenses covered under the insurance policy are directly settled by them with the hospital. You just have to take care of the minor expenses, that the policies don't pay.

... believes in work, not paper-work

And, at such critical moments, you can't be just filling up huge forms. Or running after the insurance companies (or the TPAs) for the necessary approvals, to go ahead with the treatment. They should be readily available anytime, anywhere. Online access, 24-hr helpline, email support are the very basic options that any insurance company should provide.

... covers a wide range of hospitals

Different doctors are associated with different hospitals. Different hospitals are known for different types of specialty treatments. Sometimes you may prefer a hospital near your home, so that the daily commute is not a burden. To cater to these varying requirements, it would be good if your insurer has a tie-up with widest range of hospitals. However, vis-a-vis other attributes, you can probably give somewhat lesser weightage to this one. There is no restriction on where you should get treated. The only problem would be the absence of cashless facility. You will have to pay first and claim later.

... claims to have settled most of its claims with minimum fuss

This, of course, is the real test for any insurance company. It is easy to be proactive and offer excellent services when selling the policy and collecting the premiums. But the big question is, will it offer a similar top-notch experience at the time of claim settlement. This is where both (a) the claims ratio and (b) the time-frame within which the claims are settled, assume importance. 

I  know, this involves some serious hard work. But, don't skip this detailed assessment. Remember, this probably would be a one-time effort. Health insurance is a matter of life-long association. So, once you tie-up with a good insurance company, you are likely to stay with it forever.

Of course, even the best of the best policies will not provide a comprehensive protection against all kinds of medical issues. For that you need a more elaborate strategy, as discussed in my blog post Strategic Security System Against Healthcare Expenses.

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