Should you buy maternity health insurance? Here is your answer

Should you buy maternity health insurance? Here is your answer

Maternity insurance ideally covers impending costs incurred during the pregnancy or at the the time of delivery, but you must read the fine print first

The decision to be a parent can be quite exciting. After all, being responsible for another human is both exhilarating and unnerving. But this emotional responsibility can be overwhelming, given the costs involved.

So should you go buy health plan for maternity care? First let's understand maternity insurance.

What is maternity insurance?

As a couple trying to start a family, apart from being psychologically prepared, you also need to look at the costs involved in raising a child. With high-end hospitals serving up luxuries on a platter, the cost of hospitalisation for an expecting mum and that of labour and delivery could be anything between Rs 60,000 and Rs 2 lakh.

You could therefore, go to health insurance companies to get yourself covered. But the question is, should you?

What does maternity insurance cover?

Maternity insurance ideally covers impending costs incurred during the pregnancy or at the the time of delivery. This would mean these primary areas.

  • Includes hospitalisation expenses and the costs for the delivery (normal or caesarean)
  • Covers the cost related to pre and post hospitalisation (pre & post-natal care)
  • Covers the cost of taking care of the newborn baby as well (up to a particular time)
  • Includes the ambulance charges for ferrying the expecting mother to the nearest hospital

However, do not jump onto the bandwagon just yet. These insurance covers have a catch.

  • Waiting period: Every insurance cover company will give you a waiting period (insurance cover actually starts after this waiting period). This ranges from 36 to 72 months of continuous renewals. So if you are planning a baby, this could be beneficial. However, some maternity insurance covers offer low waiting period of 7 to 9 months only. For instance, Joy by Religare Health Insurance, that comes with a waiting period of only nine months.
  • Limit of maternity expenditure: Not all of them will limit your expenditure, but most of the insurance companies put a tab on the money you spend during the pregnancy. Very few policies will give you more than Rs 50,000. While the actual cost may go upto even Rs 2 lakh. So you end up shelling money from your own pocket. But some try to sweaten the deal with additional offers. For instance, Royal Sundaram Lifeline Elite, offers maternity benefits, that has a minimum sum insurance of Rs 25 lakh. It also covers 11 critical illnesses in international hospitals.
  • Coverage: You must read and understand the policy very carefully. If your requirement is also post delivery, like care for the newborn from the first day or emergency C-section, or termination of pregnancy among others, then you must keep an eye on the policy for such benefits.

Continue reading to know if you need a maternity insurance plan, especially if you are over 30 years. 

Do I need a maternity insurance plan?

A report in a leading daily quoted insurance companies as saying, "the average maternity age has increased from 26-27 years to 32-33 years." This means that complications during pregnancies have also risen. And, this in turn has led to a rise in women option for health plans that cover maternity.

However, if you are 30 years and above and buy a health plan of lets say, Rs 3 lakh; the premium would be between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 per year. But if you add maternity cover, it may cost you anything between Rs 8,000 and Rs 9,000 per year.

So should you buy a maternity cover if you are planning a baby after 30 years?

  • For women whose employers have provided a health insurance plan, going for an individual plan is not advisable
  • If you are not working and plan to go for maternity insurance, know that the waiting period and double premium will cost you dearly as opposed to helping you in the future
  • If you do not have health insurance, then again do not go for high premium maternity cover

"For a benefit of Rs 25,000, buying a Rs 3 lakh health policy, charging an annual premium of Rs 8,000-9,000, with a three to four years waiting period, doesn't make sense," Divya Gandhi, Head, General Insurance, and Principal Officer, Emkay Insurance Brokers, was quoted as telling the daily.

However, if you must buy....

If however, you decide to anyway go ahead and buy a maternity insurance cover, here's what you need to remember:

  • Buy a policy at an early age, between ages 20 and 30 years
  • This will give you enough time to cover for the long waiting period, many of whom even extend upto 6 years
  • Another good best time to go for maternity insurance is when you get married because you may decide to have the child a few years after the wedding

You can check up the various Indian maternity insurance covers here.

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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