Health insurance plans come in various shapes and sizes - there are basic plans and premium plans, local and international, plans with deductible or no deductible and so on.
Here are the seven questions you must ask before you pick one and sign on the dotted line.
Is the coverage local, regional or international?
First, decide what sort of geographic coverage you're looking for. You can base this decision on how often you travel abroad and whether you're gone for long periods of time or not. Keep in mind that some local plans may only cover your emirate, while others may provide UAE-wide coverage. Regional plans may cover GCC countries or the whole Mena region. International plans, as available in the UAE, may or may not cover the US and Canada within worldwide coverage.
What is the maximum coverage available?
Health insurance plans are subject to an aggregate coverage limit. This is the maximum financial coverage offered within the plan on an annual basis. Quite obviously, a policy that gets you an annual coverage limit of Dh400,000 will be more expensive than one that covers you up to Dh150,000 annually. If you're opting for a plan that has co-insurance, this aggregate limit will most likely include the co-insurance payable too.
Which hospitals and clinics are covered?
Usually, the more expensive the health insurance policy, the wider will be its network of hospitals and clinics. Check whether your go-to medical facility is covered or not, and if it is, check whether it offers a direct billing facility or not. Sometimes, you may require access to a specialty hospital or medical facility for an ongoing ailment, so it is important to check if such hospitals are covered under the plan or not.
Is there a co-insurance clause?
A health insurance policy may or may not require you to pay a co-insurance. Co-insurance is basically the portion of medical expenses that you have to settle out of your pocket. It is expressed as a percentage, and the higher the co-insurance, the lower will be your insurance premium.
What are the maternity benefits?
If you and your spouse are considering planning a family in the future, the maternity benefits section of the health insurance policy will be of great interest to you. When comparing maternity benefits offered under different policies, you must carefully go through what's included under both out-patient and in-patient medical services. Outpatient services cover prenatal checkups, ultrasound scans, lab tests and so on, and in-patient services cover the actual delivery of the baby as well as any emergency medical procedures. Don't forget to check the maximum coverage limit if you have a normal delivery or C-section. Compare this with the actual cost involved in both the procedures at your chosen hospital.
As is the case with all health insurance plans, the list of exclusions is very long. Your job is to sift through this list to make sure that something of interest to you is not excluded. For example, if you want dental treatments to be covered, make sure these are included in the benefits. Similarly, if you want to opt for preventive screening tests or alternative medicine in the future, get a plan that doesn't exclude such tests and treatments. By checking the exclusions to begin with, you can ensure that your future claims are not at risk of being rejected.
Is there a discount available?
Before you choose a health insurance policy that meets all your requirements, check to see if the insurer can offer you a discount on the premium. Some insurance providers may offer you a no-claims discount if you renew without having made even a single claim in the previous year. You may also get a discount, if you buy health insurance for your whole family together.
The writer is the founder and CEO of souqalmal.com. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
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