Is Omicron - The New COVID-19 Variant Covered Under Health Insurance?
Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on all our lives for over two years now. And just when we thought we were going back to the precedented times again, a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, surfaced. Designated as a variant of concern, Omicron was first identified in early December in South Africa. Over 30 nations have already started reporting cases of this latest COVID-19 variant, and many countries have once again announced strict restrictions.
While we are yet to ascertain how dangerous this new variant is, it is speculated to be highly transmissible and heavily mutated. Reports suggest it is three times more transmissible than the Delta variant of COVID-19, which was identified in December 2020.
As the fear of Omicron grows, one question that most of us would have is - whether or not this new COVID variant is covered under health insurance?
Is The Omicron Variant Covered Under Insurance in India?
It was recently announced by IRDAI that all health insurance policies that cover Covid-19 will also cover its new variant, Omicron. So, yes, both comprehensive health insurance plans and Covid-specific policies will cover Omicron.
Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans
A comprehensive health insurance policy will cover expenses you incur during, prior to, and after a hospitalization. Depending on the policy and insurer you choose, you can also get several other benefits, such as daycare procedure coverage, organ donor coverage, health checkup expenses coverage, etc.
Comprehensive health plans have specific conditions related to waiting periods, room rent limits, etc. - that you must be aware of before you opt for them.
Covid-19 Special Health Insurance Plans
In March 2020, IRDAI had introduced two COVID-specific policies - Corona Rakshak and Corona Kavach. And all-new variants of COVID, including Omicron, will be covered by these two policies - because the variants might be new, but they are still a part of the same virus. Both Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak policies are simple, short-term health insurance plans - but they work differently.
A Corona Rakshak policy will offer you a fixed cash benefit of up to INR 2.5 Lakhs if you test positive for COVID-19 and are hospitalized for more than 72 hours. The policy has a waiting period of 15 days during which you cannot make a claim.
A Corona Kavach policy will reimburse the actual hospitalization expenses incurred for COVID-19 treatments if you're hospitalized for more than 24 hours. This policy doesn’t have any room-related capping and will cover costs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks, etc., separately. Like Corona Rakshak, it also comes with a waiting period of 15 days. This means you cannot make a claim under the policy for the initial 2 weeks.
It might get a little difficult for you to get either of these Covid-specific policies, as most insurance companies have stopped selling them. You might be asked to purchase a comprehensive health insurance policy instead.
You should also note that Covid-specific health insurance plans are not a substitute for comprehensive health policies. A Covid-specific plan will only cover Covid-19 and its variants, whereas a comprehensive health plan will cover hospitalization-related expenses of all illnesses and injuries, including COVID-19 and its variants. Also, unlike Covid-specific plans that provide a cover for only 9.5 months, comprehensive health insurance policies are renewable for a lifetime.
Hence, it's important that you purchase a good comprehensive health insurance policy for yourself and your family. It is the easiest way to ensure that you don’t exhaust your entire life’s savings to pay the hospital bills - should you or anyone in your family get hospitalized for any illness or injury.
Why Should You Buy Health Insurance NOW?
Here are two reasons why you should consider purchasing a health insurance policy at the earliest -
1️⃣ Higher premiums & stricter underwriting rules
Ever since COVID-19 came into the picture, the frequency of hospitalizations has increased. Hospitals, too, have increased their charges substantially. As a result, insurers have had to pay a much larger payout and hence, have been facing huge losses.
Remember, insurance companies are not welfare or non-profit companies, they have a goal of making profits. Hence, the only way out for them is to increase the premiums and make the underwriting guidelines more stricter and stringent to restrict people with substandard lives from getting health insurance coverage.
2️⃣ Health care inflation
In India, health care inflation is way more than retail inflation - and it has been rising at an alarming rate over the past few years. Medical costs are increasing exponentially, too. If you or your family get hospitalized for any serious illness or an injury, the cost of such a hospitalization could leave you financially exhausted and create a huge hole in your pocket.
Health insurance is a purchase that you should make when you don’t need it because when you do (say you get injured or diagnosed with a disease), it might become tough to get it. And with Covid-19 and its new variants looming over us, it is essential that you take a health insurance policy for yourself and your loved ones if you haven’t already! And, if you’re already covered under health insurance but think it will be inadequate in the future, ensure you upgrade it while you still can.
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- Omicron is the newly-discovered variant of COVID-19, which is covered under both comprehensive health insurance policies and COVID-specific policies.
- Covid-specific policies - Corona Kavach and Rakshak will cover only Covid-19 and its variants whereas a comprehensive health plan will cover hospitalization expenses related to all injuries and illnesses.
- Comprehensive health plans are renewable for a lifetime compared to Covid-specific policies that provide a cover for 9.5 months only.
- Most insurers have stopped selling Corona Kavach and Rakshak, and they might ask you to buy a comprehensive health insurance policy.
- The frequency of hospitalization and hospital charges have increased due to Covid-19 and insurers have been facing huge losses. Hence, they have tightened the underwriting rules and increased the premiums.
- In India, health care inflation is way more than retail inflation and medical costs are rising too. If you or your family get hospitalized for any serious illness/ injury, the cost of such a hospitalization could exhaust you and your family financially - if you don't have health insurance.
- It is important that you buy a health insurance policy for yourself and your family immediately. If you’re already covered under health insurance but think it is not adequate, ensure you upgrade it at the earliest.
Aakansha is a Content Ideator and Writer at Beshak. With her easy-to-understand content, she makes insurance simple for everyone. She comes with a strong background in finance and commerce and wants to help families make positive insurance decisions that are good for a lifetime.