Taking health insurance for granted

March 27, 2012

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Chances are you haven’t given this much thought. It would be part of some document which you signed when you joined the company. For a majority of those in the corporate world, health insurance is provided by the employer — to such an extent that you take it for granted.

Let’s do a status check, especially for those in the 25 to 40 age group working in the private sector.

How many of your friends have shifted jobs or have been forced to look for another job in the last two years?

How many of you have seen health insurance benefits being slashed in the last couple of years by your company — for example, parents not being covered any more?

How many of you have been asked to contribute some part to the health insurance premiums which your company provides?

Chances are not just one of the above, but all three would have been experienced by a large number of employees.

Health-care costs are not going to decrease in the near future and hence we will see health insurance premiums increase in the coming years. Many general insurance companies will take a hard look at their portfolios and will definitely re-price upwards the group health plans (the ones you get from your organisation) which are not profitable. And with premiums increasing, your employer will shy away from making too much of a contribution.

So why leave it to your employer to take care of such a critical aspect of your family’s expenditure? And since it doesn’t cost too much, it makes sense to take contingency planning into your own hands. Many of us have never seen our parents buying a health insurance plan and assume we too will never need it — it seems like wasteful expenditure.

There is nothing worse than a big hospital bill when you are between jobs. As the saying goes, if it can happen, it will happen — just hope it isn’t you.

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