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Health Insurance for Expats in India

Submitted: August 2013

Expats in India should have health insurance when they can afford it. It is advisable to get your insurance arrangements in order prior to entering India.

Employment in India and health insurance

If you are an employee in India and earn less than INR15,000 per month, you and your employer are required to contribute towards the Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), where contribution rates are set by law. Insured persons under the ESIC scheme and their dependants are eligible for some social security benefits, including basic medical treatment.

Otherwise, health insurance is not compulsory in India.

Mediclaim policies

Under section 80D of the Income Tax Act 1961, insurance premiums towards a Mediclaim policy are tax-deductible up to INR15,000.

A Mediclaim policy are a product regulated by law, and it is designed to provide basic cover only. That said, you have some discretion over the generosity of your Mediclaim cover (e.g. lower excesses, higher insured sum, etc.). Mediclaim products are provided by competing private insurers. As a result, you might wish to compare the market before taking out a Mediclaim cover.

Be aware that many items of expenditure are excluded from Mediclaim policies. These include, but are not limited to:

Extra cover

You might be tempted to rely solely on Mediclaim policies, but you should bear in mind that these policies are designed to cover some clinically necessary costs only. Failure to take out health insurance on top of Mediclaim is likely to leave you with out-of-pocket costs.

If you decide to have extra cover, be aware that a foreign insurer is unlikely to offer you a policy which is specifically designed to supplement Mediclaim. Thus, you might wish to consider a policy from an Indian insurer, even though an international cover from a foreign insurer can be perfectly fine.

International cover

You should check the geographical coverage of your existing foreign insurance policy, if you have any. Likewise, do check the geographical extent of your Indian insurance policy, if you have one.

If you have a foreign policy but you haven't been sold it as an international insurance cover specifically designed for expats, your policy is unlikely to work in India. In that case, you should let your insurer know that you are moving to India, and switch to an international cover. Your insurer is likely to charge you extra for this, but do bear in mind that the very fact of being insured in several countries carries an extra burden as well.

A good international cover would insure you against:



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