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Now Mental Illness Will Be Covered by Health Policies

Mental illnesses will now have to be treated at par with physical illnesses

  • 01 Oct 2018
  • min read

People in India are not aware of the adversities that one goes through while suffering from a mental illness. Be it financial or mental, one must seek support in times like these. Insurance regulator IRDAI issued a circular stating that insurers must cover mental illness, which is rapidly increasing in the country. Mental health conditions have always been excluded from health insurance policies.

On May 29th, the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 came into being. The Act states that it is mandatory to provide insurance for treatment of mental illness. The insurance policy should cover ailments such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. But, none of the 33 insurance companies in India has launched a single product covering these.

An executive from a top health insurance firm welcomed the move of providing health cover to those suffering from mental illnesses, stating that it will normalize the myths and stigma associated with the malady. This will make people aware of the problems faced by mentally ill patients and ensure a life of dignity for them.

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Psychiatrist and Director at the Pune-based Indian Law Society’s Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, Mr. Soumitra Pathare says that it is extremely inhuman to discriminate people in this manner. The only exceptions when it comes to covering mental health issues are Autism and Down’s Syndrome.

Sanjay Datta, Chief of Underwriting, Re-Insurance and Claims, ICICI Lombard General Insurance stated this as an actuarial and financial risk. He mentions that this is an uncharted territory. This insurance can be divided into two – OPD Cover for therapy, consultation, and drugs. Second, covering rehab or hospitalization, which would be long-term and expensive.

Companies wanting to include mental health coverage will have to file a fresh product with IRDAI or add this to an existing product and file again. A government official said,”Companies will have to revise rates, look at the actuarial risk, increase premium if need be. So far, no insurance company has filed for such a change with the regulator”.

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