Five tips on health cover for students abroad
03 Feb, 2014 02:02 PM
Know your options

Unless the university makes it mandatory for you to buy the health cover it provides, you can waive it, especially if you are already covered as a dependant or want to purchase it privately. Many students club the premium with the tuition fee for convenience, but the university may not offer the best deal, and it is wise to compare. Despite the online channel, it's not easy to buy a plan from a foreign insurer. So start by surfing the domestic plans. For some universities like MIT and Stanford, the plan must comply with their guidelines. If the pre-packaged plan doesn't match the requir-ements, insurers are ready to tweak it.

Compare cost

The university cover is much more expensive than one from a domestic insurer if you are studying in western countries. For instance, Columbia University's basic health plan with a $300,000 cover will cost $2,157 (Rs 1,29,420 at 60/$) annually. On the other hand, a domestic insurer, say, ICICI Lombard, offers plans with a cover of $500,000 at an annual premium of Rs 46,851. The rule changes if you are closer home, say, in China Medical University. The college charges 600 CNY (Chinese yuan renminbi) annually, that is, 6,000 at 10/CNY). A cover from a domestic insurer will cost you around Rs 7,500 in this case. However, before you buy compare the cover and benefits as well.

Factors to consider

Consider features like cashless facility, network hospitals near your campus, claim settlement procedure and past record of insurer. Though a domestic plan costs less, the university policy is likely to score more on these parameters and also cover pre-existing conditions. Another important factor is the sub-limits and deductibles. University plans usually have higher deductibles. However, the university plan will cover only health while the domestic insurance is a bundled travel insurance and covers loss of baggage and passport too.

Not mandatory

Having insurance is a must if you are going to study in the US, Canada or the Schengen countries. However, it is optional in the UK, Australia, China, and Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia. Since the cover is optional, you won't be advised by the college and will have to do your own research. However, typically, there are study facilitation centres for international -students, which can guide you on the insurance you are likely to need.

Continue with your plan

If you already have a health plan or are covered by a family floater policy, do not stop paying the premium. The student plan will exist only for a few years till the time you are studying, but a regular health plan in India offers lifelong renewability. When you return, you'll be older and will have to pay more for buying a new policy. Besides, discontinuing the plan will mean you'll lose the benefits accrued on it and will have to serve the four-year waiting period clause on pre-existing disease coverage all over again. Since you are young, the regular health plan premium won't be very high and losing these long-term benefits for a few thousand rupees will be imprudent.
Source : The Times Of India

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