A lackadaisical approach towards maintaining fitness is not only bad for your health, but also your budget. Find out how a healthy lifestyle can keep your health insurance premiums under check.
Poor state of health can be debilitating in more ways than one. Health insurance companies typically think twice before issuing policies to insurance-seekers with major health concerns. They see heavy consumption of tobacco and alcohol and even lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension as red flags at the time of evaluating insurance proposals. Depending on the company’s underwriting policy; it could either decline such proposals outright or accept them after charging a higher premium.
Therefore, apart from adversely affecting the quality of your lifestyle, your health issues have implications for your finances too. The good news, however, is that the reverse is true too.
Staying fit can be rewarding, quite literally. If you avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and follow a strict fitness regime, you can keep a tight lid on your premiums. Such insurance customers are highly sought after by insurers as they are less likely to contract illnesses and hence, the chances of hospitalisation and consequent claims are also lower. Your insurer will not resort to premium loading if your health is in good shape – in other words, you will pay as much premium as those in your age group.
In fact, some insurers have gone a step further to reward customers who take good care of themselves in the form of reward points that act as money for premium payments. For instance, Aditya Birla Health Insurance, the latest entrant into the standalone health insurers’ club, offers such a lucrative program for its customers. Policyholders who maintain fitness standards prescribed by the insurer get cash equivalent rewards. The same can then be used to buy medicines for fever or a procedure which is excluded in the policy due to a waiting period or simply you can use this rewards for paying your next renewal premium. In other words, you may pay lesser premium next time by staying active and healthy throughout the policy year.
The company has introduced a ‘HealthReturns’ programme that monitors the number of days you engage in physical activity in a calendar month and the level of fitness achieved to compute a composite ‘Healthy Heart Score’, which is further segmented into red, green and amber. It is a progressive score where the ‘returns’ are directly proportional to the efforts put in. For example, being active for up to three days a month will fetch you no returns, while raising the bar to four to six days will yield a Healthy Heart Score of 1.2-6%, provided your fitness assessment result corresponds to ‘level 2’. If the number of days of physical activity crosses 13 or your fitness assessment result scales the peak of level 5, your score can shoot up to 30%, which is the highest one can aim for.
While the concept of treating cash equivalent rewards that can be used to fund premiums is still at a nascent stage, many insurers have realised the importance of preventive healthcare and wellness programmes. Put simply, the higher the number of hale and hearty customers a company boasts of, the lower will be its claim ratio. As a result, they actively encourage their customers – particularly employees covered under group health policies – to get gym membership, enroll themselves for Yoga sessions, sign up for regular health check-ups and so on. They do so by offering discounts on membership and enrollment fees.
At a time when health insurers are going all out to promote the idea of being fit and fine, the onus is on you to make the most out of the offerings – your body as well as your wallet will thank you for it.