India is battling a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic that shows no signs of slowing down. If you are planning to buy health insurance amid this, it must consist of enough and comprehensive coverage. A crucial consideration while buying insurance is whether or not it covers the cost of consumables.
Consumables are usually the medical equipment that has to be discarded after use. These include PPE kits such as nitrile gloves, coverall, goggles with transparent glasses, N-95 mask, shoe covers, face shield, or surgical accessories like tissue paper, crepe bandage, gown, foot covers, slippers, disposable gloves, sheets, syringes, gowns, masks, etc.
According to Policybazaar, the cost of these consumables during general hospitalisation was less than five percent of the total bill previously. However, the highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus is the reason for the extremely high use of consumables in hospitals over the last 15 months.
Hospitals across the country have been forced to make it mandatory for their entire staff to wear protective gear at all times, including bodysuits and face shields, which has indirectly increased patient costs.
Given this high proportion of consumables in hospital bills, Amit Chhabra, Head-Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com tells that some insurers have started to cover these costs through add-ons to assist consumers in paying for these costs non-payable items.
“For now, three prominent insurers are offering this feature - Care Health Insurance, Max Bupa Health Insurance, and Digit Health Insurance. The feature can be availed through any Care Health insurer's plan by adding an add-on to it - Care Shield. This add-on can cover consumables and non-payable items such as belts, gloves, braces, masks, spirometers, thermometers, and other similar items,” Chhabra tells.
In addition to covering consumables, the Care Shield add-on covers preventive health check-ups, wellness, home care, doctor consultations, and diagnostics.
Care Health Insurance and Max Bupa Health Insurance's Safeguard add-ons pay for consumables in hospitalisation bill up to the entire sum insured, added Chhabra.
“Both of these plans cost five percent of the base plan premium. For example, if a policyholder chooses a Care Advantage plan with an annual premium of Rs 8,000, the annual cost of the Care Shield Rider is Rs 400. There is also Digit Health Insurance's Ultima Option plan, which includes a built-in feature that covers the policyholder for consumables while he/she is in the hospital,” he stresses.
However, various consumables are not covered by certain insurance companies in the case of COVID-19 hospitalisation, according to Naval Goel, Founder and CEO of PolicyX.com.
The reason behind keeping these consumable products out of the coverage plan, Goel said, is that they are considered as personal comfort and safety measures. Since consumable parts are used only once and required in large quantities, they tend to become a significant portion of the bill of the patient.
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