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Heart of the matter
Our sister publication, My POLICY, details exactly how to look at all the benefits when buying health insurance
March 19, 2014 3:18 by kippreport
A health insurance policy protects you and your loved ones, if you become ill or have an accident. Basically, what you need to do is look at the benefits offered and ensure that this matches what you are looking for and, more importantly, what you need. If you’re reading this, you probably live in the UAE and the international nature of jobs in this part of the world means that many of us travel a lot. So, My POLICY urges you to find out whether your health insurance covers you abroad and, if so, in which countries? This is because most contracts only cover you in your home country. But, as with any insurance, it’s for you to look into your policy, question your insurer or broker and find out what you are entitled to.
There are different types of policies available, but all of them have exceptions and exclusions, and these entirely depend on the individual and/or the policy itself. Be aware of exclusions caused by pre-existing conditions. Also, look out for policies that exclude surgeries and medication, since many of them do. Many people often believe that if you already have a pre-existing condition, health insurance is of no use, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Policies are underwritten in ways to measure the likelihood of certain diseases and, if you already have one, insurers will be able to advise you on the policies you can opt for. Look beyond accidents and normal health issues. Some policies cover surgery, optical and even maternity needs. Too often people see health insurance as coverage against chronic diseases and serious accidents. If you have a family, it may be beneficial to seek a policy that covers dentistry for growing children. These benefits can also be added to existing policies.
However, policies aren’t charities – one should know the waiting times between claims. Some will require a claimant to be symptom free for at least 12 months before they can claim again for the same problem. So, study your policy documents and know every small detail. As with any investment, you must read the small print. Brokers and insurance salespeople are often chasing targets and the region is notorious for pressure sales. Take your time and read everything, including the small print. Moreover, it is important for you to understand your rights and entitlements. Do not underestimate the delays of pay and claim; it is a system by which one pays for his/her treatment and then claims from the insurer later. Several companies offer cheaper policies on this basis. The alternative, which is likely to bump up the price of a policy, is direct billing, in which your insurance company pays to the hospital or clinic directly. This, in particular, is worth looking out for when buying a policy.
The best thing you can do, however, is to be prepared. Ensure that you have the right policy in place. If you are not insured, then start looking for one. You often hear insurance companies talking about the financial buffer that a policy provides and, without taking anything away from that logic, the most important thing to insure is one’s health.
In the UAE, cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are quickly becoming hot spots for obesity, heart diseases and diabetes. Although a balanced diet and an active lifestyle are important, good health insurance can go a long way in protecting your needs.
- Read the terms and conditions carefully
- Opt for direct billing, even if it costs more
- Contact your insurance provider frequently
- Know which hospitals and clinics are available to you
- Eat healthy, stay fit