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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  What should you know before deciding to port your health insurance policy? MintGenie explains

What should you know before deciding to port your health insurance policy? MintGenie explains

Transferring health insurance policies presents opportunities to personalize coverage, preserve accrued benefits, and obtain improved coverage or reduced premiums. Porting also allows policyholders to choose insurers that provide better service and exercise consumer choice.

Are you aware about the pros and cons of porting your health insurance policy?Premium
Are you aware about the pros and cons of porting your health insurance policy?

The growing concern over the surge in pneumonia cases in China and the anticipation of a potentially more formidable virus than COVID-19, as predicted by medical experts, have prompted individuals to reassess their decisions regarding health insurance. An increasing number of individuals now recognize the significance of possessing sufficient health insurance coverage

Consequently, a significant number of people have opted to transfer their health insurance plans to alternative providers. The heightened awareness is likely resulting in a surge of individuals transferring their health insurance plans to alternative companies that provide more extensive coverage or improved benefits. Moreover, shifts in lifestyle, such as the onset of a chronic condition or the aging process, can also induce individuals to reevaluate their insurance requirements and make adjustments accordingly.

It can be argued that the 15-day free-look period offers policyholders an opportunity to assess their coverage and make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the plan. Nevertheless, this brief timeframe might not be sufficient for a comprehensive understanding of the potential drawbacks of the policy or the practices of the insurer.

This clarifies why some individuals are eager to transfer their health insurance policies. However, does portability consistently provide benefits? Before delving into the advantages and disadvantages of health insurance portability, it would be beneficial to comprehend the rationale behind it and what it genuinely involves.

Comprehending the portability of health insurance

The health insurance portability initiative, implemented by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), was designed to provide policyholders with increased flexibility and options regarding their health insurance coverage. This allows individuals dissatisfied with their existing health insurance policy to seamlessly transfer it to another insurer, retaining accrued benefits like the no-claim bonus (NCB) or waiting period credit. Moreover, those with individual health plans can transition to a family floater health insurance plan if they have a family.

To transfer your health insurance policy, it is necessary to submit a porting request to your prospective insurer at least 45 days before the renewal date of your current policy. Alongside the request, you will be required to furnish certain documents, including your existing policy document and medical records. After receiving your porting request, your new insurer will assess it and inform you of their decision regarding the acceptance of your policy.

Health insurance portability in India extends to all types of indemnity-based individual health insurance policies, family floater health insurance policies, and group health insurance policies. This implies that regardless of your policy type, you have the flexibility to port it. Moreover, neither the IRDAI nor insurers impose any charges for availing the health insurance portability feature. This renders it an excellent choice for individuals seeking to switch to another insurer without concerns about additional expenses.

How do you benefit from transferring your health insurance policy?

Transferring your health insurance policy can present numerous benefits, enabling you to customize your coverage based on your current requirements and preferences, potentially leading to cost savings or improved benefits. Here are some notable advantages of porting your health insurance policy:

Preserve accrued benefits: By transferring your health insurance policy, you maintain all the benefits accumulated in your current plan, including your NCB and waiting period credits. This represents a notable advantage of porting, enabling you to change insurers without forfeiting the valuable benefits you have acquired.

When you transfer your policy, waiting period credits stand out as another valuable advantage retained. These credits are applicable to particular exclusions or limitations in your policy, such as pre-existing conditions or certain treatment procedures. Porting allows you to preserve any waiting period credits accumulated from your previous policy, thereby lessening or eliminating the waiting period associated with these exclusions.

Obtain improved coverage or reduced premiums: If you have acquired new medical conditions or need specialized treatments, you might necessitate a policy offering broader coverage or a higher sum insured to address these expenses. Porting provides the opportunity to discover a plan that suits your distinct healthcare requirements.

Additionally, if you’ve welcomed new dependents into your family, there might be a need to transition from an individual plan to a family floater plan, extending coverage to your entire family. Porting facilitates a smooth shift to a plan that caters to the evolving needs of your expanding family.

Subsequently, if you have moved to a different city or region, you might require a policy with an established network of hospitals and healthcare providers in your new location. Porting enables you to identify a plan with a robust network nearby, guaranteeing convenient access to healthcare services.

Opt for an insurer that responds better: Many people complain about poor customer service, delays in claim settlement, or limitations in the network of their current insurers. Porting provides an opportunity to transition to a provider that prioritizes satisfaction and delivers superior service.

Finally, as your financial circumstances evolve, you might explore more economical health insurance alternatives. Porting allows you to compare premiums across various insurers, potentially leading to the discovery of a plan that better aligns with your budget.

Tailor your policy: Transferring your health insurance policy presents a valuable chance to personalize your coverage and limits, aligning them with your specific healthcare needs and preferences. This adaptability enables you to tailor your policy, ensuring it offers sufficient protection for your distinct situation and potential medical expenses.

For instance, if you foresee elevated medical expenses stemming from pre-existing conditions, scheduled procedures, or a desire for more comprehensive coverage, you have the option to enhance the sum insured. This represents the maximum amount the insurer will pay for covered expenses.

Furthermore, porting enables you to investigate supplementary coverage options that might not have been accessible in your previous plan. These additional options could encompass coverage for particular medical conditions, preventive care, or maternity benefits, guaranteeing that you have the necessary protection.

Avail of supplementary benefits: Insurance providers frequently acknowledge the appeal of attracting new policyholders through porting and may provide enticing incentives or extra benefits to encourage individuals to transfer their policies. These incentives can vary from premium discounts to inclusive wellness programs and value-added services that contribute to an improved overall healthcare experience.

Certain insurance firms extend expanded network choices to new policyholders, granting access to a broader array of hospitals and healthcare providers in their vicinity. Additional benefits tailored for new policyholders, such as heightened sum insured limits, expanded coverage for pre-existing conditions, or extended coverage for specific treatments, surpass the inherent advantages of any standard health insurance plan.

Sustain uninterrupted coverage: It is critical to ensure continuous and smooth continuity of health insurance coverage, especially for people who have persistent medical issues or are about to undergo treatment. Porting your health insurance policy effectively closes the gap between your existing and new coverage, ensuring you avoid any lapses in protection. This holds particular significance if you are preparing for hospitalization or surgery; by porting your policy, you guarantee the continuity of your coverage, offering financial protection against potential medical expenses.

Exercise freedom of consumer choice: Transferring your health insurance policy empowers you as a consumer, allowing you to play an active role in overseeing your health insurance coverage. Through actively comparing plans, negotiating with insurers, and making informed decisions, you can attain various benefits. Also, porting motivates you to stay well-informed about the latest health insurance offerings and market trends, empowering you to make timely decisions regarding your coverage and potentially capitalize on new options or enhancements.

Maintaining these benefits constitutes a vital element of health insurance portability, ensuring the uninterrupted receipt of coverage and discounts without commencing anew with a different insurer. This sustained continuity of benefits fosters peace of mind and delivers financial protection for your healthcare requirements.

Are there any drawbacks to health insurance portability?

Certainly, health insurance portability comes with some disadvantages. It’s essential to carefully assess these drawbacks before making a decision on whether to transfer your health policy to a different insurer. These include:

Option for portability exclusively accessible during the renewal period: Health insurance portability is not a year-round option; instead, it is limited to the renewal period of your policy. This implies that if you’re dissatisfied with your current provider and wish to switch insurers, you may need to endure a waiting period, often spanning several months, until your policy is up for renewal. This delay can be a significant drawback, particularly if you encounter a medical emergency during the interim period, causing frustration and inconvenience.

Porting allowed only to a policy of a similar type: Typically, health insurance portability restrictions limit consumers’ ability to move their policy to the same type of plan. If you now have an individual health insurance policy, for example, you can only port it to another individual health insurance policy. Similarly, if you have a group health insurance coverage, you can only migrate it to another group health insurance policy.

This restriction is in place to prevent policyholders from bypassing the underwriting process or securing coverage for pre-existing conditions that were not included in their previous policy. By confining portability to similar plan types, insurers can retain a level of control over their risk pool.

If you contemplate transitioning to a different health insurance plan type, porting your existing policy won’t be an option. Instead, you’ll be required to apply for a new policy and undergo the underwriting process, which may involve providing details about your medical history and undergoing a physical examination.

Higher insurance premiums warranted: When you transfer your health insurance policy to a different insurer, there is a chance that your premium might rise. This is because the new insurer will conduct its own underwriting assessment to evaluate your risk profile, considering factors like your age, medical history, and claims history. If your risk profile is assessed as higher, the insurer may impose a higher premium to account for the elevated level of risk. To prevent unexpected surprises, it’s essential to meticulously compare premiums and coverage options before transferring your health insurance policy. Request quotes from multiple insurers and thoroughly review the policy terms to ensure a clear understanding of coverage, exclusions, and the premium structure.

Losing out on some benefits: When transferring your health insurance policy to a new insurer, there is a potential for the loss of certain benefits. This is due to the fact that each insurer provides different plans with distinct benefits and exclusions. The particular benefits at risk of being forfeited will hinge on the plans offered by both your current and new insurers.

Possibility of a waiting period before pre-existing conditions are eligible for coverage: If you possess pre-existing conditions, there could be a waiting period before your new health insurance policy covers those conditions. This is typically due to a pre-existing condition exclusion period in most health insurance policies, where there’s a designated waiting duration during which such conditions are not covered. The duration of this waiting period varies based on the insurer and the specific pre-existing condition in question.

The downside of health insurance portability lies in the pre-existing condition exclusion period, which may necessitate paying for treatment out of pocket if you switch insurers before the waiting period concludes. This financial burden can be substantial, particularly if you're dealing with a chronic or costly pre-existing condition.

Despite potential drawbacks, such as waiting periods for pre-existing conditions or potential premium increases, the advantages of health insurance portability frequently surpass these concerns. Health insurance portability presents numerous benefits, rendering it a valuable advantage for many individuals in spite of numerous disadvantages associated with the porting of the policy. Through a thorough assessment of your choices and a comprehensive understanding of the portability process, you can make well-informed decisions that align with your health and financial objectives.



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Published: 29 Nov 2023, 11:30 AM IST
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