Starting a family is usually a big decision a couple has to take. They have to consider several issues economic and emotional before beginning a new family. A new addition in the family brings along fresh economic demands on he family starting from pregnancy to the child birth and beyond.
As per financial planner Shifali Satsangee, “While it is imperative to prepare and be emotionally ready for a baby, it is equally crucial to be financially prepared to welcome a new member to the family”.
So, where to begin? Having insurance coverage to take care of all major medical expenses related to pre and postnatal care can be a good place to start. However, most standard health insurance policies fall short on offering solid maternity coverage.
While some plans categorically exclude all expenses related to pregnancy, others impose very low sub-limits for maternity care. Even those who extend maternity coverage only offer it as an option or add-on.
Maternity Insurance a must?
In such a case, having maternity insurance can help. These policies not only provide comprehensive coverage for the mother, but also cover your new-born for some time. For instance, the CARE JOY Maternity Insurance Plan offers a new-born baby cover of up to Rs 50,000 for a sum insured (SI) of Rs 5,00,000.
Since most of these plans come with a 9-month waiting period for claiming maternity-related expenses, experts advise buying such plans up to 12 months in advance. All major plans only offer cover for up to 2 deliveries.
However, problems arise in case you have a pre-existing condition or a specific condition like thyroid, diabetes or heart, liver or kidney disorders, or chronic infections. Not only can they adversely impact your pregnancy, the waiting period for your claims in such a case may also go up to 2-4 years.
Similarly, the Tata AIG Medi Care Premier policy, the maternity coverage extends a maximum of Rs. 50,000 per policy .Again, this is only enforceable after 4 years of being continuously covered by the policy. Naturally, as SI goes up, so does the premium and the sub-limits.
Know thy medical self
Data suggests that some of the most common issues that are detrimental to both mother and fetus during pregnancy in India include gestational diabetes (GD), or diabetes detected during pregnancy, hypertension, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
According to a 2015 research from European Heart Journal, 3 out of every 5 Indian women only discover their heart condition for the first time during pregnancy, pushing them under long waiting periods under most policies.
Moreover, 1 in 5 women is likely to develop GD. There are also chances of miscarriage and postpartum depression, which plagues 22% of new mothers in India, according to the 2021 Asian Journal of Psychiatry.
Unfortunately, maternity insurance does not offer a financial panacea for all this. Like Star Health limits its liability towards pregnancy care to Rs 2,500 on a SI of Rs 10 lakh. In the event of a miscarriage due to an accident, you will have to wait up to 12-24 months to receive Rs 25,000 for an SI of Rs 10 lakh, for which premiums can go up to Rs 10,300/year.
According to financial planner Nema Chhaya Buch, “Insurance is very critical for maternity. Thoroughly check what all maternity treatments are covered in network hospitals. Enquire if your company is offering maternity benefits under its group insurance. And depending upon this, you should top up your coverage with additional benefits for your postpartum health and newborn”.
Welcoming life, artificially?
Some plans, like that of Star Health, also offer financial assistance for surrogacy and assisted reproduction ways like IVF. However, this is subject to sub-limits. For a policy with SI Rs 10,00,000, the company will only pay Rs 1,00,000 towards this annually. For surrogacy, the company will not compensate for pregnancy and delivery expenses of the surrogate. Others, like CARE JOY, exclude IVF from its coverage.
TATA AIG, which charges Rs 11,579 as annual premium for an SI of Rs 10 lakh, also pays for vaccination expenses for up to one year after the birth of the child up to Rs. 10,000/-Similarly, Star offers vaccination coverage subject to a sublimit of Rs 2,500 for an SI of Rs 10,00,000.
However, these nuances differ, depending on the policy. So, buy one that ticks the most boxes for you. But as Buch puts it, do not rely solely on insurance, but rather, diversify your corpus for pregnancy and raising your child. “Plan in advance with SIPs according to your financial goal regarding maternity and childbirth related expenses. Pan a budget, anticipating additional maternity and childcare expenses and a temporary hit in the income before, during, and after maternity period. But most of all, enjoy motherhood with all your heart!”, she says.
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