Saturday , 26 May 2018

Health: Endurance v/s Insurance

Tensing Rodrigues

Installing an anti-theft device in your car entitles you to a discount in the motor insurance premium. Because the insurance company feels confident that the chances of having to pay you a claim are lower. The discount can be around 2.5 per cent on the own-damage component of premium.

Health insurance policies do not have such a provision. What they do have is usually a provision to pay you for a health check up every few years. The underlying logic is more or less the same: A greater confidence to cover the risk. But you can yourself capitalise on such a confidence to save on your health insurance premium. It may sound a bit strange to think along these lines but just give it a thought. If you feel it does make sense you can try it out may be in a small way. You have little to lose even if you do not save on health insurance premium you will save on health.

I would suggest two very simple ‘devices’ for this purpose- preventive health checkup and preventive health maintenance. Many hospitals and testing labs offer packages that include a thorough check up. But I would suggest not going for these blindly. Discuss with your family doctor the critical parameters that can indicate the state of your health or more appropriately the early signs of something going wrong. It may include simple parameters like blood pressure and blood composition. For instance two tests which I have found to be quite useful lately but not commonly done are the thyroid function test and liver function test. Both can give early warning of several manifestations. You can discuss with your family doctor about many such early indicators.

I am repeating ‘family doctor’ for a reason. Specialists usually tend to take a relatively narrow view and are rather too busy to give sufficient attention to such a ‘non-serious case’. But that does not mean you should not seek specialist opinion. Recently I came across a hospital for eye care, Sankara Nethralaya which does a thorough check up of eyes. The most distinguishing characteristic of this hospital, I noticed is the time a doctor or technician there is ready to spend on a patient, in spite of the fact that serious cases from across the country come to it as a last resort. This is just an example I am giving to illustrate what I am hinting at. The basic principle behind preventive health checkup is, ‘a stitch in time, saves nine.’ You will need a lower health cover if you monitor the state of your system from time to time.

The second is the preventive health maintenance. This has two or three components. The first is your diet. The second is level of activity and the third avoiding stress. Dieting does not mean not eating some things. It means eating everything in moderation and making a healthy choice. This is probably the most difficult of the ‘health premium cutting’ measures but the most effective. It cuts both the ways as healthy diet cuts the cost of food as well. Most of the ‘high costing’ illnesses can be traced to lifestyle – cardiac ailments and cancer are just two good examples.

Diet’s counterpart is physical activity. That too cuts two ways. As you move yourself around on your legs you spend less on fuel. Often we turn the physical activity into a fad or an object of glamour by frequenting gyms or going jogging on special tracks or some such social status enhancing activity. Consequently the focus shifts from physical activity to glamour. Just go about your routine activity in a way that gives more vigorous shake up for your body. It works.

The keystone of healthy living is doing away with the stress. Agreed some stress is unavoidable but within limits. Small bit of stress is keeps you going but when it begins to affect your vital parameters you have to be on the watch. Well you got to do something about it before that. Almost all common problems such as hypertension, blood sugar, cholesterol can be traced to stress. If you keep tab on all three, viz. diet, exercise and stress, you can definitely cut your health insurance premium.


*The author is an investment consultant. Readers can send their comments and queries to

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