Invest in health to secure your future: Here’s how

(Representative image) (Representative image)
NEW DELHI: Awareness around fitness may have increased over the past few years, but Indians fare poorly on several parameters. According to a study by fitness device platform Goqii, Indians under the age of 45 saw a rise in the incidence of lifestyle diseases in 2018 compared to 2017. Incidence of diabetes rose to 5.1% from 3.6%, high BP to 9.4% from 4.9%, cholesterol to 12.1% from 5.4% and thyroid to 6.1% from 4.4%. A Cigna 360 wellbeing survey found close to 82% of Indians suffer from stress, with work, health and money being the causes.

Health is wealth

Will maintaining good health translate into monetary rewards? Would that induce more Indians to work on their fitness? Some health insurers think so. ManipalCigna, Max Bupa and Aditya Birla Health all offer products that incentivise fitness activities.

Constant monitoring and proactive action can postpone the onset of lifestyle diseases. Take the case of 63-year-old retired banker Mahesh Nailwal. He has been practising yoga for the past two decades. “I barely need to spend money on medication thanks to my daily practice,” he explains. Data from healthcare management firm Wellthy Therapeutics says a reduction of 1% in your HbA1c levels can hugely impact your savings over the long-term (see graphic).

Save cost graphic (1)

Besides cost of hospitalisation, diabetes can reduce productivity. It is best to keep lifestyle diseases at bay by adhering to a healthy regime from a young age. The earlier you start, the higher your chances of being in a healthier state over the long-term. Much like investing in equities, it pays to start early, be systematic, and stay put over the long-term instead of looking to invest a lump sum closer to retirement.

Health insurance plus

Even if you have purchased health insurance at a young age, the premium could spiral out of control later. “At the age of 60 or 70, renewal premium for a ₹ 5 lakh cover can rise to ₹ 70,000. Many tend to terminate their policies at this stage,” says Pankaj Mathpal, founder, Optima Money Managers. As a result, they are left without a cover at a vulnerable stage of their lives. “Build a separate health kitty for retirement during your working years,” he adds.

Retired government employee Bhuwanchandra Joshi, 76, sets aside ₹ 10,000 a month from his pension of ₹ 50,000 in a liquid mutual fund every month to meet contingency needs. This money can foot bills for expenses not payable under your policy and partly replace your unviable health policy if the need arises.

Beyond physical health

While planning for retirement, you not only need to identify recurring as well as one-time large expenses but also activities that can keep you fruitfully occupied. Both Nailwal and Joshi keep themselves busy by engaging in social and community service activities. Hobnobbing with others and contributing towards charitable causes can boost your overall wellbeing quotient, potentially reducing health ailments and thus, medical expenses.