A bitter pill for senior citizens from National Insurance

National Insurance policyholders are bitter at their insurers'' insensitivity to their needs reports Venkatachari Jagannathan.

Chennai: The dawn of new fiscal 2006-07 does not augur well for the mediclaim policyholders of National Insurance Company Limited, especially if they happen to be senior citizens.

Not only has this government-owned insurance company jacked up its premium rates by 100 per cent but has even restricted policy benefits by introducing various inner limits for several expense heads subject to the overall sum insured or the policy value. The company has also scrapped the "domiciliary hospitalisation" or the home treatment benefit.

Responds a high official not wanting to be named, "It has been nine years since the premium rates were last revised. During this period there has been an all round increase in healthcare costs. The hospitals have jacked up their room rent, the doctors their fees and the pharma companies the drug prices. The rate revision and cover restrictions are necessitated owing to 130 per cent claims ratio. In other words, the company has been paying out Rs130 for every Rs100 premium collected."

Adding further, "As per our survey 56 per cent of our total claims outgo is towards hospital room rent. Hence we brought in inner limits for various heads." According to him post introduction of the mediclaim policy, it is only the hospitals that have flourished not the insurers or the policyholders.

It is not just National Insurance Company that has hiked its mediclaim premium rates. Last year another government owned non life insurer Oriental Insurance Company Limited increased its rates which was followed by New India Assurance Company Limited. According to M K Garg, chairman cum managing director, United India Insurance Company Limited, the company is awaiting Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority''s (IRDA) for a rate hike. (See: Public sector non-life insurers discriminate against senior citizens)