Planning to start a family? Here's why you must consider maternity cover

The responsibility of nurturing a child becomes a driving force for all parents to deliberate over key decisions that have a significant impact on all other aspects

Nayan Ananda Goswami Updated: Friday, June 03, 2022, 07:21 PM IST
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Starting a family involves a lot of preparation — physical, emotional, as well as financial. The latter is best served when the parents-to-be consciously invest in a health insurance plan with ample maternity coverage to avail the benefits at the right time. The responsibility of nurturing a child becomes a driving force for all parents to deliberate over key decisions that have a significant impact on all other aspects. Here are the top six reasons why one should consider maternity cover before starting a family:

1. Least risk of premium loading

Most independent working individuals prefer to get married in their 30s and plan for a child a few years into their marriage. At that age, especially if you are in your 40s and suffer from a pre-existing condition, opting for maternity coverage (which is typically offered by majority insurers as an add-on optional rider) later on would mean paying more premium. Whereas, if you take maternity cover in your youth, your overall premium outflow (including the amount towards maternity cover) will be comparatively lower. The differential amount, compounded over the couple’s working lifetime, can be reinvested into building assets for the family.

Moreover, health insurance plans with maternity benefits usually have a waiting period of two to three years on average. Planning and opting for maternity coverage will allow the mother-to-be to comfortably complete the maternity waiting period and thereby avail the coverage offered during her pregnancy and delivery.

2. Timely financial planning for a secure future

Childbirth expenses such as pre-hospitalisation costs of scanning and consultations, C-section delivery charges, post-delivery complications if any and postnatal care, etc. can be quite high. A good health insurance policy with wide maternity cover will take care of such expenditure. The savings will help secure the child’s future. Critical milestones such as education, marriage, etc. can be financed comfortably.

3. Opportune and informed choice

Judicious planning for maternity cover gives the family time to evaluate multiple options before finalising a plan. Pregnancy and motherhood should be a joyous experience, and with the right planning, the couple need not compromise on the mother’s healthcare owing to lack of maternity insurance or hurriedly opting for a substandard choice to meet the urgent need.

4. No maternity coverage for ongoing pregnancy

Regular health insurance can be applied while you are pregnant. However, maternity cover cannot be availed during an ongoing pregnancy. Nearly all non-corporate health insurance plans in India carry a waiting period for maternity-related expenses (average two to three years long). Even in the case of group medical insurance schemes where the mother-to-be is covered as an employee or as the spouse, it is important to confirm whether maternity cover is extended and if there is a waiting period. Should that not be the case, the entire amount would have to be personally financed.

5. Sublimit and exclusions

Most maternity insurance plans impose a maximum cap, that is, sublimit on the amount incurred on related procedures and treatments. If the couple’s health insurance plan offers add-on maternity cover with such limits, then the prudent thing to do would be to assess alternate options for porting the health insurance plan in time. The couple can also build a corpus in advance to compensate for future childbirth-related costs.

Also, the number of deliveries could be restricted to one or two in most cases. So, if you are planning on a second child while you availed maternity coverage once prior, you have to ensure that the age gap between both children is equivalent to the waiting period to become eligible for maternity coverage.

Infertility treatments like stem cell harvesting, surrogacy expenses, etc. are excluded from maternity health insurance coverage in India. Though in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is covered by a few insurance companies. Although couples who need medical assistance in conceiving may have to manage such costs on their own (unless they have a policy that covers assisted reproductive treatments), they would still benefit from seeking maternity cover before starting a family. This would translate to less burden on their personal reserves.

6. Newborn baby’s coverage

Pre- and postnatal expenses related to post-birth complications, infant inoculations etc. can also add up to a large amount. Opting for maternity coverage that caters to the baby’s medical needs would further lighten the pressure on the parents.

(Nayan Ananda Goswami is Head – Group Business and Retail Sales & Service, SANA Insurance Brokers Pvt. Ltd)

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