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Are women adequately covered for their health?

Irrespective of whether she is a working person or a homemaker, the role of a woman is important. Today women often have a significant say in managing finances of their home, but their own health insurance is not part of the overall plan in majority of households. It is no surprise then that the number of women having an independent health insurance plan is less.

Here is a look at the common reasons why Indian women are not covered as their male counterparts

Lack of awareness
While there is a lot of talk of gender equality and women empowerment, a majority of Indian women depend on their families to take a financial decision. The lack of financial awareness to choose the right financial product for their need also acts as a catalyst. As a result, the number of women opting for a health insurance plan is quite low as compared to men, who take financial decisions on behalf of their spouse and siblings.

Cost of health insurance products
The ever-increasing inflation has meant that every family is saving less and less, squeezing out expensive health insurance premiums from the household budget. While the cost of medical treatments are also going up with each passing year, and no or less incentives for women policy holders, we tend to apply the traditional mindset to insure the man of the house.

Don’t feel the need to be insured
Women in India traditionally have been focused on their homes and families, thus neglecting their own health and needs. It is for this very reasonthat a majority of Indian women do not feel the need for getting a health insurance plan. Additionally, most health insurance plans exclude women-centric health concerns, including pregnancy-related expenses or cover for maternity expenses or treatment for infertility etc. The inclusion of women-centric medical conditions in allowable claims can go a long way in women considering health insurance seriously.

Insured through group or family floater plans
Many women are already insured either through a family floater plan or other group insurance plans, hence they do not feel the need to get an independent health insurance plan. The role of financial awareness about health insurance is key, as group plans can be high-risk when faced with a sudden red slip or if the breadwinner is between jobs. Family floater plans also will not be able to offer enough protection when faced with a serious medical problem or critical illness.

Lack of women-centric features in health plans
Women have their own health concerns and needs. If a majority of women-centric ailments or lifestyle diseases is excluded in a health plan, the plan loses its significance in the eyes of women policy-seekers. An increase in the number of health plans that offer cover for lifestyle diseases, treatment of infertility diseases, and cover for maternity expenses will lead to a higher number of women subscribers willing to opt for an independent health insurance plan.

Insurance seen from an investment point of view alone
Traditionally, insurance is seen as an investment rather than a protective tool. Women are more likely to opt for a bank fixed deposit or invest in gold for future use instead of opting for a health insurance plan. Most Indian mothers prefer to invest in instruments that offer better returns for their children rather than focusing on their own health.The rising medical costs and growing financial awareness differentiating between investments and protective components of insurance are slowly changing the stereotyped mindset.

Indian women are not adequately protected when it comes to health insurance. Introduction of women-centric health plans with lower premiums can be a game-changer in the health insurance sector offering health protection to large number of Indian women.

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