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As a senior citizen, the health insurance plan you choose to get coverage under is one of the most significant decisions you will make. This is the time in your life when you are the most likely to encounter persistent medical problems, and so you need to ensure you have the fullest health coverage possible. Ideally, you should get a long term health plan as early as you possibly can. When buying an insurance plan as a senior citizen, you should try to make sure to get coverage for the longest term possible so that you won’t have to buy another health insurance plan ever again. This makes it especially important that you make sure your last plan will cover you for everything you may need treatment for.

Senior Cover

With old age unfortunately comes an abundance of pre-existing and chronic conditions that you may have acquired throughout your years. Many insurers place restrictions on their application process regarding new clients who are either above a certain age, or have a certain number of pre-existing conditions. It is therefore important to look into your insurance options and attain coverage before being excluded from a plan due to your age or medical conditions. If you wait too long and are unable to get a plan to cover you, then you will have to resort to funding medical treatments yourself, or as part of a government sponsored healthcare system. This often means the quality of care will be lower, or if you are self-funding, that you will be incurring large costs for the rest of your life. It is therefore incredibly important to consider the options you have regarding the insurer you choose, the plan you choose, the benefits available, and the age at which you sign up for your last healthcare plan. Here we explain some of the most important criteria to consider when choosing a senior citizen health insurance plan.

Key Issues to Consider

Personal/Physical Elements

  • Age Limit: Most insurers have a ‘lifetime’ age limit over which they will not insure you, or will not insure you to the fullest extent. This age limit is typically between 60 and 65 years old, so you need to make sure you are fully covered on a long-term plan before this age, especially as this is the time when you need health insurance the most. There are plans available without an age cap, but they are considerably more expensive as there is more chance of an insurer having to pay for treatments on a lifetime plan. Many people are incentivised to buy a health plan with an age limit or cap, as the low premiums for these plans seem like a good deal. However, in the long run, it will be considerably harder to buy a plan after you have reached that age limit and your capped plan has run out, and so buying a more comprehensive, lifetime plan as early as possible is worth the extra costs.

  • Pre-existing Conditions: When choosing an insurer, it is obviously favourable for you to select an insurer that can cover your pre-existing conditions. This becomes extra important for you if you are a senior citizen however, as the likelihood of you having pre-existing conditions is greatly increased. Cover for your pre-existing conditions (and any complications or other treatments as a result of the conditions) comes at an increased cost on your premiums, but at a point in your life where pre-existing conditions may need frequent treatment, this increased premium is better than having to pay for the cost of treatments yourself. It is important to try and get cover for pre-existing conditions as early as possible, as if you wait till the conditions worsen it will be harder, or even impossible to get them covered. It is worth shopping around insurers and taking time to find the right plan with the right coverage options for your pre-existing conditions. If you contact our advisors, we can help you do this using our industry knowledge and expertise.

  • Chronic Conditions (a.k.a Lifestyle Illnesses):  Chronic conditions are conditions that you typically will pick up later in life. They are called lifestyle illnesses, as they come about due to the consequences of your personal lifestyle - such as diet, and exercise level, and include illnesses such as Diabetes and Hypertension. An insurer will often not cover these conditions, as they will be with you for life and cannot be cured, only treated, which guarantee costs for the insurer until the end of a policy. Make sure you pay careful attention to how an insurer treats chronic conditions, as if there are any caps or restrictions on treatment for chronic conditions (e.g. based on age) then you may not be able to receive treatment despite believing you are insured. The most likely plans to limit or refuse cover for chronic conditions are cheaper plans. It is therefore recommended that you pay attention and pursue a health insurance plan that will probably cost more, but will be of high quality and will ensure you are covered for all conditions during your old age. High quality health insurance plans, such as those on offer through us, will not limit claims for chronic conditions, ensuring you receive full coverage well into your later years.

Plan Elements

  • Plan Renewals and Claims: This incredibly important part of your health insurance policy often goes overlooked, causing significant problems later on in your life. Insurers have the choice of whether or not to renew your policy, and if they choose to renew, then at what premium. A big decider in whether or not an insurer will renew your policy is your previous claims experience. This means that if you have made large claims, or are doing so currently; if you have multiple claims; or if you have particularly expensive claims, then you will not be able to renew your policy, or will have to do so at a higher premium rate (this is known as a Claims Rated Policy or Experience Rated Policy). We highly recommend that you do not purchase a claims rated or experience rated plan as a senior, or if you are approaching your senior citizen status. These plans offer little to no protection for you later in your life when you need coverage the most, as the insurer can refuse to renew your policy. A problem as a result of this is when finding a replacement insurer, you will have pre-existing conditions to get cover for which is expensive. The alternative is to purchase a Community Rated Policy. This type of plan guarantees that you will be able to renew your policy, regardless of any new ailments you may have picked up. This policy does not take into account your health status, as all policy holders on the plan pay the same premium. You will be in a bracket based on your age, location, and desired coverage extent rather than on your claims history. This type of plan has a higher overall premium than claims rated policies, but the guarantee of renewed protection into your later life is worth the increased price.

  • Inflation Rates for Premiums:  Compared with other good and services available globally, health insurance inflation rates escalate significantly. Medical costs have increased by around 10% annually, which means that insurers have higher costs to pay year on year. The insurers transfer these costs on to you, the clients, in the form of increased premiums. Unfortunately, medical costs will continue to rise as medical technology advances. While this means great things for medical advancement and life prolonging, it also means a continuing increase in premium rates. It is therefore important to understand and begin saving for the rising premiums for all individuals in their 50s and above. By looking at your insurer’s premium rates for individuals in higher age brackets, you can assess the willingness and ability of the insurer to cover and treat older people. If you cannot find this information online, then ask your insurer what their rates are for the elderly, and what their policy details are regarding if they will keep you as a client in the long term. As intermediaries, we here at CHI know that many insurers are thoroughly capable of insuring you for life, but also that many insurers will not want to. Talk to us and we can advise you of the best available plans and insurers for seniors.

  • Area of Coverage: It is important for you to consider before you settle on a plan whether you will be staying in your current location or if you think you will move again in the future. Insurers can accommodate you in multiple locations, but to get the best deal, you must sign on for a plan that permits this flexibility or risk incurring high costs, or simply not being able to be covered and having your plan cancelled. This is especially important if you wish to move to America, as the USA has specific insurance requirements (see our USA Cover page). There are some policies that will allow you to either transfer your existing policy to the USA or buy additional USA coverage, but this may be at an increase on your premiums. Many people also want to return to their home country later in their life. To integrate into your home healthcare system, you must have a plan that meets your home country’s healthcare requirements or you will have to source and start a new policy when you return home. When you are choosing an insurer for your later years, consider your future lifestyle choices, and whether you will want to relocate. This will prevent you from having to possibly cancel your policy and ensures you will be fully protected no matter where in the world you are.

  • Changing Your Policy - Benefits and Premiums: As you get older, your individual plan requirements will change. It may be the case that you no longer need dental cover, or evacuation cover, or that you want coverage for other specific benefits that weren’t available or relevant to you previously. There are a variety of plans available, some of which are modular and flexible which allows you to select only the coverage you need, thereby controlling your costs and providing perfectly tailored coverage. Different insurers treat modules differently, and this is also true of deductibles, co-payments, and excesses. These are the elements of a plan that can help you to bring down costs; something that might be especially important later in life when you have a budget and limited pension that prevent you from paying expensive premiums for your health insurance. For many outpatient treatments, using your state healthcare may be a good option, meaning you only make claims on your health insurance plan for major illnesses, injuries or accidents. It is therefore important for you to choose the right plan, that will afford you flexibility in terms of benefit coverage, as well as offering you a deductible, excess or co-payment if you want them or are on a budget. Choosing these flexible plans as early as possible will benefit you significantly later in life as you can pick the coverage you want and how you pay for that cover.

Insurer Elements

  • The Insurer’s Reputation: It is obviously important to make sure you look at plans from a trusted insurer with a solid global reputation, good track history, and positive customer reviews. While there are many insurance options out there, your health should not be taken lightly and you should not go for the cheapest option available just to save money at the expense of your health. Find out if your insurer is committed to health insurance, or whether they deal in other businesses too. Find out how they treat their customers who are older, and the benefits they offer and exclude for the elderly. How many clients does your chosen insurer have, and what are the general reviews of this insurer? Find out if your insurer has cancelled clients’ plans before, and if so for what reason. If you are buying this plan as your last intended health insurance policy, you need to find out what the long term health insurance options are, and make sure that the insurer has the same ideas as you about covering you in your old age. Choosing the best insurer does not necessarily mean signing a policy with the big name insurers, as there may be smaller more personal insurers out there who are dedicated to looking after clients more intimately. If the thought of searching through insurers is largely overwhelming to you, then talk to us. As insurance intermediaries, it is our business to know the ins and outs of insurers and their policies. We can help you to find the perfect plan to accommodate all your needs at the lowest price possible. Using our extensive knowledge of and strong relationships we have built with the world’s leading insurers, we will ensure that you come away with the best plan to cover you in your old age.