Pre-paid wallets: Innovative solutions to pay your doctor
CHENNAI: Non-banking financial institutions are coming to the rescue of cash-strapped patients by offering a range of financial solutions. From prepaid wallets to mutual funds to EMIs, people can now look at options apart from medical insurance. One of the major advantages in securing these types of loans is that it gets sanctioned irrespective of the disease or the age of the patient -unlike insurance which is very specific in terms of coverage and exclusions.
In a first of its kind, pre-paid wallets with a cover of up to Rs 2 lakh are now available for medical emergencies. Launched in Mumbai, Pune, NCR, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, healthcare loan provider Arogya Finance, has issued more than a thousand pre-paid cards for people, who would normally be termed 'non-bankable.' The cards, covering up to five family members, can be bought for Rs 1,000 with yearly renewal for Rs 250.
"It's a pre approved medical loan card, which we hope will ease the financial burden for weaker sections in society. We have easy monthly installments of 1236 months that the card holder can opt for," said Jose Peter, CEO, Arogya Finance, whose banking partner is HDFC Bank.
Another advantage of using a pre-paid card is that all diseases are covered and treatment can be availed in any hospital in the city in which card is issued. "With health insurance or employer-provided health care only, certain medical emergencies are covered. And then again only admission costs and not out-patient, consultations, therapy or post-operative care is covered. Here, the card can cover any medical expense and is issued based on the card holder's repaying capacity," says Peter.
Investors can also now pay their hospital bills through mutual funds. ICICI Prudential MF recently launched a 'medical advantage feature' in one of its ultra short-term funds that allows investors to use their investments to cover hospitalisation expenses.
Investors can get cashless access to empanelled hospitals for their medical expenditure. They also get 247 accesses to a doctor on phone, up to 25% discounts on medical tests and hospitalisation, neutral second opinion and advice on which hospital to choose. The fund has launched the feature in collaboration with Vidal Healthcare Services.
At the other end of the spectrum are people, who seek aspirational medical procedure like hair transplants, breasts augmentation, teeth whitening, dental braces, etc. "We see a big market in aspirational medical intervention. People want cosmetic procedures done and they wouldn't normally afford it. And for medical insurers -this market would be huge. So we are now offering EMIs for people wanting dental care like invisible braces," says Sridharan Sivan, CEO, S10 Healthcare.