Kolkata,11 May(HS): Providing a massive blow to the country’s large number of health insurance policyholders, particularly the senior citizens at the present time of a National Health crisis, public sector National Insurance Company has decided to substantially increase its premium amount for all health policyholders forcing many to consider cancelling their policies despite urgent requirements at the current juncture.
According to informed sources, the Kolkata headquarters public sector National Insurance Company has decided to hike the number of premiums of all its health policies from minimum 20 per cent to as high as 79 per cent with effect from 15 May across the country making them unaffordable to many.
Claiming that the sudden rush in the demand for reimbursement of expenses in various health policies by the policyholders, particularly the senior citizens, as the prime reason for the company to substantially increase the premium amount from this year, the sources, however, said keeping in view the present lockdown condition and almost total halt of the economic activities of the country it was decided to allow a cushion time of three months for all policyholders whose payments were due between 15 May and 15 July for the renewal of their policies. But after 15 July all premiums would have to be paid at higher rates, they said.
However, a number of diseases being treated by Homeopathy or even Unani medicines would now be eligible for payment under the new policy guidelines which were never reimbursed before, the sources said and claimed that it would open a new vista for a large number of patients who were now being treated by these two traditional methods of treatment.
But expressing their strong protest against the Company’s unilateral decision and that too at the present critical time to increase the premium amount so substantially, a large section of employees including those work as Agents of the company, felt that such a steep hike in the premium amount even for the senior citizens would deal a massive blow to the future of their health policies of National Insurance since a large number of these people whose income were dependent on their monthly bank interest would be forced to cancel their policies and would not renew them.
This large chunk of people would not be able to meet the demand and would be forced to cancel their policies in spite of their requirements, they felt.
We wonder how many policyholders would be able to afford to pay such a high premium when their income from other sources was shrinking, Spokesman of the NIC Agents Basubeb Mukherjee said and demanded immediate rollback of the company’s decision considering the ground reality.
Citing examples about the increased premiums after the hike, he claimed that the annual premium for a Health polity of Rs 400,000 for a 63-year-old person in National Insurance who was now paying Rs 16,5000 plus 12 per cent GST, would from next year have to pay over Rs 35,500 plus 12 per cent GST every year. Despite being a senior citizen his premium amount would be hiked by as high as 79 per cent, Mukherjee said.
However, comparatively the annual premium amount for younger policyholders would be much less because of the longer term of policies. Accordingly, for a similar policy of Rs 400,000, a policyholder of around 35 years would now have to pay only 20 per cent extra compared to around 79 per cent for a 63-year-old person.
Similarly, for a 50-year-old policyholder the hike would be around 50 per cent.he said.
Longer the policy, the rate of increase of premium amount would be lower, Mukherjee said and reiterating their demand for an immediate rollback of NIC’s decision to hike the annual and other premiums before it sent wrong signals to the policyholders.
Now it remains to be seen whether the Centre would intervene in the issue and force NIC to withdraw its decision which in all likelihood to affect its annual growth in health Insurance business among the common people.