Health insurance policy and beyond: Working on a Mona Lisa smile

Personal finance and health insurance coverage play pivotal roles in shaping the narrative of financial security, particularly as one ages. Author George Orwell once remarked, “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves,” emphasizing the visible impact of life experiences on one’s countenance. The aging face becomes a canvas that eloquently depicts the story of financial well-being. Worry lines, etched by financial concerns, starkly contrast with the Mona Lisa’s elusive smile, impossible under the weight of money troubles. Thus, the retiree’s face becomes a testament to preparedness for retirement, marked by either lines of concern or contented smiles.

Amit Chandra, a fictional character, encountered a sudden health crisis just months after celebrating his retirement. A sharp stomach pain led to an emergency operation to address bleeding from an ulcer. While his health insurance provided coverage for the treatment, the subsequent incidental expenses, such as special diets, frequent doctor visits, and increased utility bills, posed financial challenges. Amit’s daughter and son-in-law found themselves reorganizing his modest investment portfolio to support ongoing medical expenses, realizing the need to assist the older couple.

In a country like India, where retirement planning is uncommon, many rely on their children for financial support. Employer-provided pension plans are often considered sufficient, but they may fall short, especially when health-related needs arise. Amit’s monthly pension of Rs 30,000 is deemed insufficient for living in Mumbai and inadequate for addressing health-related expenses not covered by insurance.

Amit’s experience serves as a lesson for his daughter and son-in-law, highlighting the inadequacy of mass-produced benefit plans. The specificity of retirement needs necessitates personalized retirement plans. Various financial savings options, including pension schemes regulated by the Pension Fund Development and Regulatory Authority, offer avenues for tailored retirement planning.

Life insurers’ pension plans present another lucrative option, enabling individuals to plan for retirement systematically. These plans provide protection against uncertainties and can ensure financial support for a spouse’s retirement even in the absence of the policyholder. Options range from one-time lump-sum payments to deferred payments of regular premiums over time, catering to different financial capacities and retirement timelines. Plans also offer flexibility in choosing annuity payments, allowing subscribers to customize their post-retirement income.

In Amit’s case, the prospect of selling their Mumbai apartment and relocating to a smaller town looms, reflecting the challenging choices faced by retirees. Despite the uncertainty, the importance of advanced medical care accessibility remains a priority. This decision, while pragmatic, underscores the sacrifices individuals may make in their golden years, foregoing the comfort of familiar neighborhoods and established support systems.

In summary, the intertwined narratives of personal finance and health insurance underscore the importance of proactive retirement planning tailored to individual needs and circumstances.

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