In this fast going dynamic world, many of us running in our daily activities. In this process some of the individuals might have addicted to smoking. However, these individual health might be at high risk with such smoking habits. It is a myth that smokers cannot get health insurance in India. Smokers do get health insurance, but with different terms and conditions than non-smokers and there are few additional clauses attached to it. This article is an overview of the health insurance for smokers. How Smokers can get health insurance plan in India?
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What is a Health Insurance Plan?
In simple words, health insurance plan is a type of insurance coverage that covers the cost of the insured’s medical and surgical expenses at the hospital. It protects you from paying the full costs of medical services while you are injured or sick. At an agreement to pay a certain rate or premium, the health insurer agrees to pay a portion of your covered medical costs. The market is flooded with a plethora of health insurance plans that are unique in themselves in terms of coverage.
Smoking also impacts the cost of health coverage for a smoker as compared to a non-smoker.
Are there separate health insurance plans for smokers and non-smokers?
Separate health insurance plans are available and these also would depend upon the quantum of smoking one has. Generally, health insurance companies offer the same plans to light smokers and non-smokers. Premiums are accelerated for those who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day. The insurance company looks at daily tobacco consumption and status of a person’s health. They may even seek medical test if the prospect is above the age of 40 age are looking for a high-priced policy. If the medical test detects any health complication, that particular ailment is excluded in the initial years of the plan. If you smoke 2 or more packets of cigarette in a day (a chain smoker), the insurance company might refuse your health insurance proposal.
Many insurance companies do not insist on higher premiums unless there are health complications detected. Taking up the smoking cessation programs by insurers may lower their health insurance premiums. If you have quit smoking, you have to stay at least 2 years away from smoking to get the premiums dropped for your health insurance plan.
Do smoker need health insurance plan?
Still confused with this confusion? A health plan is a must for smoker because of the following reasons:
1) He is exposed highly to lifestyle diseases than non-smokers.
2) A smoker must insure himself against critical illnesses which could arise in the future due to smoking habits.
3) Stroke, hypertension, heart disease, respiratory illness, lung cancer are fewer serious illnesses to which a smoker is more vulnerable.
How Smokers can get Health Insurance Plan in India?
According to the health insurance companies, a person who takes nicotine in any form is a smoker. Insurers insist on medical tests to detect the level of smoking and determine the premium for coverage. The traces of nicotine can be detected in your blood, urine, saliva, and hair. While signing up for the health insurance plan, the insurer asks you about your lifestyle and habits. At this time, the smokers should declare their smoking habits to avert any dispute at the time of settlement of the claim. The insurer may insist you to undergo a medical test to meet their underwriting norms. They also consider your age, pre-existing diseases, and the sum assured while offering a health insurance plan. Insurers may refuse policy to smokers suffering from Type 2 diabetes. If you do not suffer from pre-existing illnesses and smoke a few cigarettes, you can easily get health insurance. Health insurance companies reject proposals of those who smoke in the range of 20-40 cigarettes a day.
What are the various misconceptions regarding smoker’s health insurance?
1) The insurance companies get to know about the customer’s status of smoking solely through self-declaration. Researchers have said that most of the smokers do not disclose their habit of smoking while availing health insurance, but if the insurer detects at the later stage that this crucial information was not disclosed, they would reject your claim. It is treated as the willful non-disclosure of the material information. If you were a smoker and given up smoking long ago, disclose it.
2) Many smokers think that their application for insurance plan would be rejected as the insurer considers the entire future ailment to be the result of smoking but it is a myth. If one makes an honest and proper disclosure and undergoes the prescribed medical tests, he can easily get himself covered.
3) Many people believe that at the time of claim, their claim would be partially or fully rejected. It is again a misconception. A claim is rejected in the case where ailment related to smoking was not disclosed at the time of buying the policy. Health insurance companies have a waiting period of 2-4 years before pre-existing diseases are covered. If you have been dishonest, (which includes not updating the changes in lifestyle) insurer may reject your claim. Medical tests are conducted by the health insurers at the time of the claim and they can detect changes like declaring 2 cigarette smoking per day but actually, it is 6 cigarettes per day. The nicotine shows up in the blood and urine tests. A slightly higher premium and waiting period are worth it as in case of any disease, the bank balances may be washed out by the hospital bills.
4) The claim settlement process for smokers and nonsmokers remain the same.
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Which are the Best Health Insurance Plans for Smokers?
Some of the family floater health insurance plans are good for both smokers and non-smokers (where these can be taken along with spouse). Let’s quickly check these cases.
1) Religare Care Health Insurance Plan
2) Apollo Munich Optima Restore
3) Max Bupa Health Companion
4) ICICI Lombard iHealth Insurance Plan
5) Star Family Optima
One needs to check with these health insurance companies and provide your smoking habits and check whether you can really get health insurance plan based on your life style.
Conclusion: Health insurance companies do cover smokers because it comprises a big chunk of society. As smoking brings a poor quality of life with it, it becomes even more mandatory for a smoker to seek a good and extensive health insurance plan that can protect his family in his absence.
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How Smokers can get Health Insurance Plan in India
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