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Health Insurance

What Is Waiting Period In Health Insurance?

Rajesh recently purchased a health insurance plan. He knew he made the right decision since his lifestyle made him more prone to illnesses. Without a health cover, he would have had to spend huge sums of money in hospital expenses. 

Just eight days after buying the policy, Rajesh was hospitalized after he got diagnosed with dengue fever. He didn’t worry too much about the bills because he thought his policy would cover the costs. He was in for a surprise when his agent told him his initial waiting period wasn't complete and that's why his claim would not be accepted.

Before buying a health insurance cover, one of the first things you need to do is read through the fine print. Health policies come with several clauses, and one such is the waiting period clause. Buying a health insurance policy doesn’t mean you’ll get coverage from day one – there will be a waiting period associated with it. All policies have a waiting period. This is a period of time wherein you cannot claim any benefit from your insurer.

What are the different types of waiting periods?

  • Initial waiting period - If you were to fall ill and get hospitalized within 30 days of buying the policy, the insurance company is not going to pay you any benefits. Health insurance policies have a waiting period of a month. Any medical treatments you have to undergo during this period will not be covered. Treatments for accidental cases, however, are an exception. 
  • Pre-existing ailment waiting period - If, at the time of buying the policy, you suffer from a medical condition, you will not be covered right away for the medical expenses arising due to this. There is a waiting period associated with hospitalization due to pre-existing medical condition and this could range anywhere from one year to four years (or more), depending on the kind of insurance product you have availed.
  • Ailment specific waiting period - Every health insurer will have a list of pre-specified diseases. If you are hospitalized because of any of the ailments mentioned in the list, you cannot make a claim until the waiting period has ended. This is usually around 2 years. The common ailments you will find in the list include hernia, piles, diabetes, hypertension, etc.

While there is nothing you can do to escape the waiting period, you can opt for plans that have lesser waiting period. Compare policies of various insurance providers and make sure to read the policy wordings so that you are thorough with the extent of coverage as well as the waiting period for covering hospitalization of different ailments.

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