Waiting Periods Under Your Health Insurance Plans

A business deal is considered to be successful only if the buyer and the seller, both are the beneficiaries of that deal.

A health insurance policy is no different where the buyer (insured) gets optimum health coverage and the seller (insurer) earns profits by providing the health cover. But, every insurance provider puts in certain clauses in the policy documents to keep a check so that no one misuses the health cover and also to ensure that the insurance company doesn’t incur losses owing to higher payouts compared to premiums received.

One of such important clauses is the WAITING PERIOD.

Definition of Waiting Period

This can simply be defined as a pre-specified period of time after the commencement of the policy that has to pass before the insurer becomes liable to entertain all or some of your claims. It means that you cannot start filing the claims immediately after buying the insurance; you’ll have to wait for some time at least. This time period varies from policy to policy and insurer to insurer based on certain pre-set parameters of the insurance company.

It also depends on the age and medical history of the policyholder.

There is no waiting period in employer based health insurance policy and you get the cover under a group health policy from the first day.

Waiting Period in health insurance policy is there to eliminate planned claims and moral hazard. If there will be no waiting period in health insurance policy, then the misuse of policy will grow as people will start buying the policy for planned claims and it will result in an unimaginable loss for the insurers.

Every detail about the waiting period of the policy is mentioned in the policy document and it is very much necessary to go through the waiting period clause and understand it well. There are different types of waiting period in a health insurance policy which are as follow:-

1. Initial Waiting Period

This period begins after the commencement of the policy and lasts for 30 to 90 days depending upon individual health insurance company. Any claim in regards to any illness or disease will not be entertained by the insurer during this period. The only exception to the rule are the accident cases, but that too, if it involves at least 24 hours of hospitalisation.

2. Pre-existing Diseases Waiting Period

If you’re already suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, or a heart ailment, at the time of buying the health policy, then the insurance company has the liberty to either include it under the health coverage or totally exclude it. Even if it includes such pre-existing diseases, they put a waiting period clause to them under which you cannot claim for the treatment of such diseases for a period of 12-48 months from the date when the policy gets executed. Any medical expenses on such diseases will be borne by you. However, you can definitely apply for the claim on any other ailments after the policy came into affect after crossing the initial waiting period. This specific waiting period is based on your age, insurance policy terms’, your health before buying a policy etc.

3. Disease Specific Waiting Period

This type is disease specific and varies from insurer to insurer. During this period, a particular kind of ailment or disease will not be covered by your health plan. Some of the common ailments that are considered for this waiting period are ENT disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, hypertension, hernia and polycystic ovarian diseases. These are ideally covered at least after 2 years of the commencement of the policy. In some cases, even maternity claims are not included in the insurance claims.

4. Maternity Benefits waiting period

Some of the health insurance companies provide maternity benefit under their health insurance policy, but with a specific waiting period of 9 months to 36 months. This is to ensure that health insurance policy should be planned much before one’s decision to start a family.

Do go through this clause when you’re conducting your research to buy a health policy, and select the plan that offers least possible waiting periods.

Compare health plans to find the best one, not only based on waiting period criteria but also according to other parameters. However, knowing your waiting period can help you prepare for emergencies and you can arrange for your finances accordingly, keeping in consideration that the insurance provider may not come to your rescue.

Harjot Singh Narula

Harjot Narula is founder and CEO of ComparePolicy.com, an IRDAI approved insurance web aggregator focussed on selling online insurance for companies. Harjot has more than a decade of experience in software development and has also spent 5 years in US working for the mortgage and risk management industry.

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