How to tackle expensive medical emergencies?

Man has made a lot of development over the years, but ironically this hasn’t reflected in every sphere of his life, least of all health and lifestyle. Stress is so common today that it is the rare individual who hasn’t faced its impact at some stage in his life.

For this reason, medical contingencies are a lot more frequent today than they were in the past. To complicate matters, costs towards medical treatment, particularly for serious conditions are no longer affordable for a majority of individuals.

Let’s take cardiovascular ailments which are particularly common in India. Treating a heart ailment, especially, if it involves surgery, can be expensive. That is, if you are looking for high quality surgery since this is one area where cutting corners can prove very costly in the long run.

The actual cost of the surgery is dictated by a variety of factors like severity of the heart condition, type of surgery, related risk factors, type of medical facility, surgeon’s experience and expertise. Today, cost of a heart surgery in India could vary in the range of Rs 1.5 lakhs to Rs 3 lakhs. Five years later it could be a lot more expensive.

The illustration below highlights how cost of heart surgery can be expected to rise over the years.

Cost of heart surgery today(in Rs) 2,00,000
Annual rise in medical cost(in %) 10
Future value of heart surgery after 5 years(in Rs) 3,22,102
Future value of heart surgery after 10 years(in Rs)5,18,748
Future value of heart surgery after 15 years(in Rs)8,35,450

(Cost of heart surgery and rise in costs are estimates and do not represent actual values.)

As is evident from the illustration, after 5 years a Rs 2 lakh heart surgery will cost over Rs 3.22 lakhs. After 10 years it will be Rs 5.19 and Rs 8.35 lakhs after 15 years. If an individual hasn’t saved that kind of money, he would have no option other than to dip into his savings and investments or worse borrow money.

One way to provide for medical emergencies is by taking a health plan from an insurance company. Health plans offer a lot of flexibility both in terms of coverage and disbursal. For instance, certain health plans cover as many as 30 critical illnesses and over 80 surgical procedures. Payment towards illness/surgery is disbursed regardless of actual medical expenses. The policy continues even after the benefit payment on selected illnesses.

With health insurance plans, individuals are assured of a more secure future both health-wise and money-wise. This makes health plans critical for individuals, especially if they are responsible for the financial well-being of the family.

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