Sunday, May 4, 2014, PM | Leave Comment
There’s no magic number for when to get medical insurance. The general rule is that the younger, the better. As soon as you can afford to get insurance (or even if you can’t), get the best coverage you can.
Before a medical insurance company even agrees to provide you with coverage, there are factors to be taken into account. These include your gender, age, and overall health condition. These factors will also determine how much you have to pay every month and what sort of services you’ll be provided with, and at what price.
In essence, your provider is betting against the chances that you’ll get sick (i.e. need their services). The healthier you are, the less chances they’ll need to spend money on you for a longer period. Generally, the younger a person is, the healthier she’ll be for a longer time.
The younger you are, the lower the monthly premiums you have to pay. Again, this is because your provider isn’t expecting you to use your benefits anytime soon. This means that whatever money you pay your insurance company will stay with them longer, which they can use as they please.
Conversely, the older (or unhealthier) you are, the less they’ll be able to make use of your money before they’ll need to pay you back (in the form of paying for your hospitalisation, etc.). They’ll want to get as much out of it as they can, hence the higher premiums.
This pricing structure also provides balance to the whole system: it’s only fair that you pay a lower monthly premium if there are less chances that you’ll be using those benefits.
Less pre-existing conditions
This is defined as a medical condition that you’ve been experiencing six months or up to two years before you applied for insurance. More often, it’s simply something you’ve had before application, regardless of the time period. Examples of pre-existing conditions include diabetes, asthma, or cancer.
Different providers will deal with this differently. Some may opt to completely withhold coverage for your condition, some may choose to charge higher premiums, while some may impose a waiting period.
This is where your youth will again be an advantage. The younger you are, the less chances that you’ll have contracted any of these diseases. If you do get them later on, you’ll hopefully be covered by medical insurance by then.
The lower premiums that you managed to secure at a younger age will be locked in for as long as you choose to stay with the program. This will not change even if you develop health conditions as you age.
Another good reason to acquire medical insurance at a young age is because of the yearly health checks. Any provider will cover this. As with any machine, don’t wait until it’s broken before you start taking care of it.
Health checks while you are young will provide your doctor with a longer and more comprehensive medical history as you go further down the road.
This bulk of data will be useful for uncovering patterns in your health that may help you in case you develop a condition in the next several years.
Regular checks will also increase the likelihood that you’ll catch a disease in its early stages and stop it in its tracks.
Having said all that, getting medical insurance coverage doesn’t mean rushing into it. Take your time to look through all the details like the cost of the premium, benefits, coverages, and doctors’ networks. Compare as many policies as you can before committing to one. This way, you’ll be sure to pick the best one out of the lot.
Mark Yasay is a blogger and digital strategist for MoneyHero, a comparison site in Hong Kong that helps residents find the best value for medical insurance, financial services and products they need. MoneyHero also provides free financial advice that supports individuals and empower them to meet their financial goals and attain financial freedom.