Modi & Co looting the middle-class old through Mediclaim premiums

This government has scrapped the bonus for older insurance payees and instead now they promise to compensate you in other ways, which have not yet been defined

Photo by: marka/UIG via Getty Images
Photo by: marka/UIG via Getty Images

Faraz Ahmad

In all the noise around the Union budget presented by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley the other day, everyone seems to have overlooked the silent loot engineered by this government in the form of Mediclaim premium from people.

With any ado, the annual premium of Mediclaim has more than doubled, particularly for senior citizens, who are more likely to avail of the Mediclaim insurance scheme often. This is nothing but a well-crafted and planned plunder.

Last year, I paid ₹21,000 as premium for a mediclaim policy worth ₹5 lakh, not with a private company, but the nationalised New India Assurance. I found the premium, steep because I have had that policy for close to 10 years and have been promptly paying the premium every year, beginning at ₹15,000 and thereby. Thus, I have paid the insurance company around ₹2 lakh already whereas I availed of its facility only once for a minor hernia operation involving just an overnight stay at the Max Hospital, Saket, in 2014. This was after paying my premiums for three years. Thus, I had paid the company somewhere around or a little more than ₹80,000 and the cashless surgery with all expenses paid also cost me ₹80,000 of which I was asked to pay around ₹5000. So, there was also some money in my mediclaim account after that surgery. Since then I have never visited a hospital or consulted a doctor and have only been paying the company in the form of annual premiums.

This year, I turned 66 and the insurance agent shocked me with the statement that the annual premium has been increased to ₹42,000 and it includes a strong dose of service tax. Now, every year till the age of 75, I will pay over ₹42,000 and only then can I hope to get the insurance company pay for my hospitalization if needed. After the age of 75, there may be another such steep rise in premium under whose burden I may die anyway without ever going to hospital.

The premium slabs for the various age groups make an interesting reading. For a five lakh policy, the premium for a person under the age of 35 is only ₹5,420, very nominal indeed. For the age group of 36-45 it is ₹5,747, pretty reasonable, no doubt. For the age group 46-50, it goes upto ₹9,582. Mind you the probability of a 35-year-old falling ill and availing of the insurance is almost nil, except in exceptional circumstances. And, that of those between the age of 36-45 is marginally higher. And so is the premium, nominally higher. Once you enter the age 46-50 your chances of hospitalisation for even more ailments like hernia situation in my case proves. That’s when you expect your Mediclaim policy to come to your aid and so the premium for this age group shoots up suddenly to ₹9,582.

Now you are getting closer to the age when you will need to look back at your mediclaim to avoid sleepless nights over the prospect of hospitalization if needed. For all the years you have fattened the insurance company’s coffers and in the case of nationalized companies indeed the government’s. So, for the age group of 51-55, the premium is ₹14,418. The next age group 56-60 it is ₹18,954. It is becoming increasingly difficult to continue paying these premiums, especially for those who have not availed of any hospital facilities but only paid premiums every year.

Earlier there was a bonus that accrued to your account and thus your premium amount was reduced by the bonus that was accrued to your account. The government of our “poor” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his equally “poor” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has scrapped the bonus and instead now they promise to compensate you in other ways. What are these, still not very clear?

Besides, the next budget may bring some more changes dumping even these assurances. But the real thing comes once you cross 60 and enter the age group of 61-65. That mind you is the retirement age when your capacity to make any payments suddenly comes down drastically and every penny out of your pocket is a torture, more so for those who do not get a pension, and many have not even had regular jobs and were thus bereft of any retirement benefits. The majority of the over 60 in our society fall into this category. And I am not talking of the poor who cannot afford this Mediclaim insurance any way. It is for us of the middle-class salaried lot who bought Mediclaim in the false hope of saving for the bad days when we may not have enough but may urgently need hospitalisation and don’t want to burden our children unnecessarily. So, the premium for this age group goes up to ₹25,243.

After 65 when you may really need to avail of your Mediclaim, the premium shoots up to ₹35,698. And all the figures quote above do not include the service and such other taxes. In the meantime, you have paid much more than ₹5 lakh for which you stand assured. All over the world, senior citizens are given concessions and comforted to ensure that they lead a hassle-free respectable life. Not in Modi regime though!

In effect then it is a big scam in which the government is stealing from you if you buy a policy from a nationalised company and helping the private companies too in turn to rob you, if you avail of their policies. And here the leading national newspaper such as the Times of India, which is deceiving its readers by claiming that ₹5 lakh health cover has been made affordable by this government. I have with me the entire table but since the story ran for ₹5 lakh health cover, I just stuck to ₹5 lakh health cover for which I have paid the premium just last month.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the organisation

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