Flu (Influenza)

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Understanding Flu (Influenza)

Influenza, also known as the Flu, is one of the most common respiratory diseases in the world. This is a viral infection that is highly contagious and affects people of all ages. Different types of influenza viruses cause seasonal epidemics in countries across the globe.

While most cases are treated with medication and rest, it can cause serious complications in people with weak immune systems and can also be fatal. Globally, around 6.5 lakh people die because of influence-related complications every year according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The severity and extent of the illness caused by the virus depend on a range of factors including age (children are more susceptible to the virus and so are senior citizens), immunity (people with a weak immune system can develop severe serious symptoms), vaccination (people without vaccination tend to be at higher risk), etc.

The infection affects the nose and throat and can also spread to the lungs. This is a highly contagious disease that spreads by coming in contact with an infected person or surface.

When you catch the flu, doctors usually tend to treat it with general antiviral medicines and advise rest and the intake of plenty of fluids. However, if the symptoms are severe and the infection spreads to the lungs, immediate hospitalization might be required.

In such cases, the cost of treatment rises exponentially causing a strain on your finances. Without a health insurance plan, these costs can erode your savings and investments.

Tata AIG offers a comprehensive health insurance policy to help you manage such medical emergencies with ease. The policy covers a wide range of diseases and illnesses and offers cashless claim settlement to help you get treated without worrying about expenses.

You can also opt for a critical illness insurance policy where you receive a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a covered critical illness.

In this article, we will talk about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and importance of a health insurance plan for Flu (Influenza).

What is Influenza (Flu)?

As mentioned above, influenza is a viral infection that affects the throat, nose, and respiratory tract in humans. It can also spread to the lungs and cause pneumonia and respiratory failure among other complications.

There are different types of influenza viruses and the severity of the symptoms depends on the strain that has caused the infection. While in most cases, the symptoms are mild, the infection can be severe in some people and result in life-threatening conditions.

Types of Influenza

There are four types of influenza viruses namely, Type A, Type B, Type C, and Type D. Of these, the Type D virus is known to affect cattle and not humans. Hence, we will not discuss this type in this article. Types A and B are known to cause seasonal flu epidemics while Type C causes mild illness. Here are the details of these three types:

Influenza Virus Type Characteristics
Type A The influenza A virus can infect animals and humans. There are many subtypes of this virus based on the surface proteins hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). These subtypes combine to form different strains that cause epidemics every year.
Type B The influenza B virus affects only humans. They have two lineages called Victoria and Yamagata. The illness caused by the influenza B virus is usually milder than that caused by influenza A. However, it can lead to complications and serious conditions in some patients too.
Type C The influenza C virus also affects only humans. It does not have any sub-classification and has very mild symptoms.

Influenza Symptoms

The illness caused by influenza is usually mild-to-severe. Most people experience a sudden onset of the symptoms and rush to a doctor immediately.

Some common symptoms of influenza are:

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Stuffy or runny nose

  • Headache

  • Tiredness

  • Bodyache

  • Fever (not everyone develops a fever)

  • Vomiting or Diarrhea (primarily in children)

Many people confuse influenza with the common cold. These are two different diseases with similar symptoms. While it is recommended to talk to a doctor for both illnesses, here is a quick comparison of their symptoms to help you differentiate between the two:

Symptom Influenza Common Cold
Fever Usually high, above 100.4°F (38°C), and lasts for 3-4 days. Rare in adults, mild if present.
Body aches Severe, can last up to a week. Mild or absent.
Fatigue Can be extreme, and last for several weeks. Mild or absent.
Headache Can be severe. Mild or absent.
Sore throat Can be severe. Can be mild to moderate.
Runny or stuffy nose Sometimes present. Common.
Cough Can be severe. Usually mild to moderate.

Influenza Causes

Influenza is a viral infection that is caused by the influenza virus. This is a highly contagious virus that spreads through the tiny airborne droplets that are released when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. If you inhale these droplets or touch a surface that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, then you can get infected.

Risk factors

While most people experience mild symptoms, in some cases, the virus can cause complications in some people. Here are the factors that increase the risk of developing severe symptoms due to influenza:

  • Children under the age of two years

  • Adults over the age of 65 years

  • Pregnant women or women who get pregnant during the flu season

  • Individuals with a weak immune system

  • Individuals with chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, liver disease, etc.

  • People with a body mass index (BMI) of over 40

Diagnosis of Influenza

In most cases, the healthcare provider is aware of the seasonal flu and diagnoses influenza based on the symptoms alone. However, in some cases, the healthcare provider might ask for tests to be certain. Here are some ways in which influenza is diagnosed:

Symptoms and physical examination

If many people are getting infected, then most doctors are aware of the common symptoms of the strain that is causing the infection. Hence, when you consult the doctor, a quick physical examination followed by an understanding of the symptoms can help him diagnose influenza.

Lab tests

In some cases, the doctor might ask for a lab test to be certain of the influenza viral infection. The most commonly accepted lab test for diagnosing a viral infection is the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Test.

If the patient has developed complications, then the doctor might recommend adequate tests to determine the extent of the infection and the damage it has caused.

Influenza Treatment

In most cases, patients fight off the infection without needing any medicines. However, if the symptoms are uncomfortable and/or causing pain, then the doctor might prescribe some medicines for relieving the symptoms and allowing the patient’s immune system to fight the infection. Usually, patients are recommended to get more sleep as it allows the immune system to focus on the virus. They are also asked to drink a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration.

If the symptoms are very severe or if the virus has caused severe complications, then the doctor might recommend immediate hospitalisation and adequate treatment.

Influenza Prevention

Influenza is a highly contagious disease that spreads from one person to another in no time. Hence, it is important to take the necessary precautions to prevent getting infected. Here are some tips:

Get Vaccinated

The annual influenza vaccine is the best way to prevent an influenza virus infection. The inactivated influenza vaccine has an inactivated form of the virus that helps the body prepare antibodies and build resistance to the infection. If you are at a higher risk of serious complications from influenza, then it is recommended to talk to your doctor about the influenza vaccine for adults.

Avoid close contact with infected people

The infection spreads through tiny airborne droplets that are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks. Hence, if you know that a person has the flu, avoid getting in close contact to prevent getting infected.

Wear a mask in public places

If the virus is in the air and many people are falling sick, then you can prevent getting infected by wearing a mask whenever you are in a public place. This can work as a barrier that prevents the virus from entering your body due to breathing it in.

Wash your hands

If you touch a surface that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, eyes, or face, then you can get infected. Hence, make it a habit to wash your hands regularly and don’t touch your face unless you have scrubbed your hands clean of any infection.

Keep your home sanitised

If certain surfaces at home are frequently touched, then make sure that you clean them regularly, especially if a family member is ill.

Live a healthy life

Practice healthy habits that eating and sleeping on time, exercising regularly, drinking enough water, and managing your stress. These habits can help boost your immunity and prevent getting severely ill due to the virus.

Why Purchase a Medical Insurance Plan?

While many doctors advise against the use of medicines for the seasonal flu, if the symptoms are mildly severe, they might put you on antiviral medicines and other drugs to relieve the symptoms.

However, if you have a weak immune system and start developing serious complications, then the doctor might recommend immediate hospitalisation and start specialised treatment based on the diagnosis.

Without a health insurance plan, you will have to bear the costs of treatment.

When you opt for a medical insurance plan from Tata AIG, you get a range of benefits including:

Exhaustive coverage: When you buy a health insurance policy from Tata AIG, you can be assured of comprehensive coverage that includes diagnostic tests, doctor consultations, hospitalisation charges, surgeries, and post-hospitalization costs.

Hence, you get total financial protection to help you manage medical emergencies without having to worry about the costs.

Cashless treatment: Tata AIG offers a cashless treatment option to policyholders if they get treated at a network hospital.

Under this facility, the policyholder does not have to pay upfront for hospitalisation and other costs. The hospital bills are settled directly by us, and the policyholder can get the treatment done in a worry-free manner.

The key is to get treated at one of our 7200+ network hospitals, inform us about the treatment, and get approval for the same.

Copayment and Deductible: The premium of your health insurance policy is calculated by considering various aspects. If the premium is beyond your budget, then you might have to consider dropping a few features to make it affordable.

Tata AIG offers copayment and voluntary deductible options that allow you to reduce the premium by agreeing to copay a certain amount at the time of claim settlement. Hence, you get the same features without worrying about affording the premium.

24/7 Customer Support: Tata AIG has a dedicated team of experienced professionals available around the clock to help you with any query or doubt regarding your health insurance policy. We understand that during medical emergencies, you need quick answers, and our team is trained to do just that.

Health Insurance Tax Benefits: Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961, offers tax benefits to individuals and HUFs who have purchased a health insurance policy for themselves, their parents, spouse, and children. Under this section, the premium paid for such policies can be deducted from the taxable income subject to certain limits, as per the prevailing tax norms.

How to Buy Tata AIG Health Insurance?

Here is a quick look at the process to buy our health insurance plans:

Online Process

  • Visit www.tataaig.com

  • Navigate to the Health Insurance Page by scrolling to the top menu on the home page and clicking on “Health insurance” or visit the page by clicking here

  • Select which family member(s) you want to include in the policy

  • Provide the date of birth of all covered family members and your contact details

  • Click on “See Plans” to go through the range of plans based on the information provided

  • Select the best plan for you and your family

  • Ensure that the sum insured is adequate to cover extreme medical emergencies

  • Compare premiums and plans to find the most affordable option without compromising on the coverage

  • Click on ‘Buy Now’

  • We will call you to complete the buying process

Offline purchase:

  • Visit the nearest TATA AIG office

  • Talk to our representative and explain what you need from a health insurance plan

  • Go through the different plans offered to you

  • Choose the best plan and the sum insured

  • Fill out the required forms and attach the necessary documents

  • Pay the fees

Documents Needed to Buy Tata AIG’s Medical Insurance Plan

When you buy a health insurance policy, we assess your profile to determine the risk and calculate the sum insured and the premium amount. We ask for information from you during the application process and also request you submit the necessary documents to substantiate the information provided. The list of documents can vary from person to person.

However, here is a common list that applies to all applicants

Age Proof Aadhar Card, passport, etc.

Address Proof Utility bill, bank statement, etc.

Identity Proof PAN Card, Aadhar Card, etc.

Medical History Doctor’s reports and test results of any pre-existing disease

Other documents IT returns, proof of income, etc.

What to Look for in a Health Insurance Plan?

If you are experiencing the symptoms of influenza, the first thing you should do is drink a lot of fluids and rest. In many cases, the body fights off the virus within 3-4 days without needing any medicines.

However, if the symptoms are unbearable, you must contact your doctor, who might recommend immediate hospitalisation to alleviate the severe symptoms. Without a health insurance policy, this would mean that you will have to bear the costs by dipping into your savings or investments.

Hence, it is important to buy a medical insurance plan that offers comprehensive coverage and covers a wide range of diseases and illnesses. Here are some essential things to look for in a health insurance plan:

How much is the coverage?

This is an important aspect of a health insurance policy. Medical costs have been rising exponentially every year. If the coverage amount is inadequate, you might have to dip into your savings or investments to manage the additional costs despite having a health insurance policy.

Hence, make sure that you assess the average costs of hospitalisation and treatment of medical emergencies in your city and choose a policy with a sum insured that covers these costs with ease. Remember, a policy with insufficient coverage will just add to your stress during a medical emergency.

Opt for copayment or deductible to manage your premium costs

When you buy a health insurance policy, you have to pay a premium amount every year to get the protection offered by it. The premium is not refunded under any circumstance. Therefore, it is important to choose a plan that offers all the features you need for a premium that fits your budget.

If the policy you need for your family has a higher premium, then look for copayment or voluntary deductible options to reduce your premium costs without compromising the coverage.

Are hospitals close to you on the list of network hospitals?

People tend to rush to the nearest hospital during medical emergencies since time is usually of the essence. If the patient is in a complicated situation, then moving hospitals might not be possible. If you want to avail of the cashless treatment option, you must get the patient admitted to a network hospital.

However, if the network hospital is far away from your home, then it defeats the purpose of being helpful during a medical emergency. Therefore, look for an insurer that has hospitals close to your home on the list of network hospitals.

Things to Remember when Filing a Claim for Influenza

When you buy a health insurance policy, you need to look at how the insurer manages claims. Hence, ask for the claim settlement ratio. This will help you understand the percentage of claims the insurer settles compared to the ones received.

Also, look at the claims process and opt for the insurer that has the highest claim settlement ratio and a hassle-free claims process. Insurers settle claims in two ways – cashless and reimbursement.

1: Cashless claim settlement

In cashless claim settlement, the insurer pre-approves your hospital costs and pays the hospital directly. Therefore, you are not required to pay upfront and file a claim later. The insurer will pay the hospital on your behalf. However, this facility is only available at network hospitals. Hence, if you want to opt for a cashless claim settlement, then make sure that you get treated at a network hospital of the insurer. Remember these things before applying for cashless claim settlement:

  • Ensure that you inform the insurer about the medical treatment at least five days in advance and receive the approval letter. This will help ensure that your treatment at the hospital happens seamlessly and cashlessly.

  • If you are getting admitted due to a medical emergency, then ensure that you inform the insurer about the same and apply for cashless treatment within 24 hours of being admitted.

2: Reimbursement claim settlement

Some insurers do not offer cashless claim settlements. Even if they do, sometimes, you might have to get admitted to a non-network hospital and receive treatment there. In such cases, you will have to file a reimbursement claim from your insurer. This means that you will have to pay the hospital bills and other charges and then claim these expenses from the insurer. Here are some things to remember for reimbursement claim settlement:

  • Understand the reimbursement claim settlement process, the timelines, and the documents needed to get your claim approved

  • File the claim as soon as you are discharged from the hospital

Here are some additional tips for influenza claims:

  • Ensure that your health insurance policy is in force and has not lapsed before starting the treatment

  • Make sure that you know the inclusions and exclusions of the coverage and are aware of the terms of the coverage too

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

Q1. Can I get influenza from the flu shot?

Q1. Can I get influenza from the flu shot?

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The influenza flu shot contains inactivated influenza virus that helps your body create antibodies and build immunity against the virus. While you might experience mild side effects like soreness and a low-grade fever, you cannot get influenza from the vaccine.

Q2. Can I get influenza more than once a year?

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Yes, anyone can get influenza multiple times in a year. Numerous subtypes of the virus can result in newer strains. Hence, people can get infected multiple times during a year.

Q3. Are pre-existing conditions covered under influenza insurance in India?

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Every insurance provider has certain terms and conditions for pre-existing conditions. Hence, it is important to check with the provider about pre-existing conditions coverage before making the purchase.

Q4. How long does it take for an influenza insurance claim to be processed in India?

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If you are opting for a reimbursement claim, then the processing time can depend on many factors, including the processing speed of the insurer, ensuring that you have submitted all the required documents, etc. If all documents are in order, then you can usually get the claim processed within a week to ten days. Make sure that you check with your insurer before buying.

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