At a time when the third wave of COVID is anticipated and insurance becoming crucial for the middle-income group, the premiums have increased by 20 to 30 per cent in mediclaim insurance policies, forcing many to give up their coverage due to lack of funds.
Multiple sources associated with private and nationalised insurance companies confirmed that 15 per cent of renewals have been affected due to the increase in annual premium charges and job loss.
Another 10 per cent have decreased the policy cover to reduce the premium rates. “The premium was revised from 15 to 25 per cent but it is the 18 per cent GST that is troublesome. A policyholder paying Rs 29,000 as annual renewal charges will have to bear an extra Rs 5200 as GST,” a senior manager with a nationalised insurance company said.
While many healthcare insurance providers have come up with COVID-specific policies, they are added to the existing insurance costs and the premiums have gone up.
According to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), a claim amount of about Rs 30,800 crore, with 24.34 lakh health insurance claims for COVID-19 treatment, was filed between March 2020 and August 2021. Tamil Nadu stands fourth in the country, among all the States that record maximum insurance coverage for COVID treatment.
Policybazaar’s coronavirus Health Insurance Policy, covering consumables, hospitalisation and even home treatment services, saw increased demand.
Jai Kumar Rawat from National Health Insurance said a large number of people in the State do not have any insurance cover and the government insurance did not offer COVID coverage initially but added it later. “Medical insurance proved to be a better option than the high-cost treatment at private hospitals,” he said.
Corona Kavach, mandated by IRDAI to be offered by all insurance providers, offers Rs 5 lakh for hospitalisation expenses. The premium policy is priced at Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,300. The sum insured under the policies range from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh and several private hospitals offer Corona Kavach coverage.