Mental issues have been brushed under the carpet for ages. Society has not considered mental issues as serious disorders in the past. Such instances have been stated as a mere ‘phase’ that shall pass and not a disease that needs to be cured. However, things are changing. And changing for good. The World Health Organization (WHO) has campaigned a lot in the recent past regarding the seriousness of mental health. Leading celebrities have also supported this cause by sharing their stories.
Due to such initiatives, common people have come forward and are actively seeking a solution to their problem. People in general need to be more aware and accepting towards those facing mental issues and need to show their solidarity by listening to them and helping them fight the issue. This is where mental health insurance can come in handy. Read ahead to inform yourself about 5 key things related to mental health insurance.
Indian insurance companies did not provide an insurance cover for mental health care. Often, mental health care was included as one of the exclusions in the health insurance policy document. The policy document clearly stated that mental illness, stress-induced mental issue, psychological disorder, etc. will not be covered by the insurance company. However, with changing times, the health insurance industry is also changing and has felt the need to provide a mental health care cover.
In 2018, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) sent out a circular to Indian insurance companies. The apex insurance body directed the companies to cover mental illness. Such inclusion needs to be made as per Mental Health Care Act, 2017. Now, the insurance companies need not distinguish between physical and mental illness. This is a welcome change considering around 15% of Indian adults need help regarding mental issues as per a survey conducted in financial year 2016 by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences.
While the IRDAI through its circular has made it compulsory for health insurance providers in India to have an inclusive outlook towards mental health care, the insurance companies will need to work on inclusions and exclusions of the policy. Most inclusions and exclusions and the general process surrounding purchasing a policy and raising a claim shall remain the same. For instance, a mental health insurance policy might insure the patient in case of hospitalization. However, the patient shall not be insured for consultation. This is in line with the currently prevalent health insurance approach.
Mental health insurance is still in its nascent stage. It needs more streamlining. Just as motor insurance has evolved into a well-defined product over the years, the mental health insurance policy will also get better with time. Insurance companies will look at ways to gather data surrounding mental ailments and underwrite policies accordingly. Currently, a mental health insurance policy might offer limited coverage. However, as and when there is more development in the mental healthcare infrastructure, the insurance companies will make the cover more extensive.
Mental Healthcare Infrastructure
All stakeholders associated with mental health need to build a progressive infrastructure to take this industry forward. Growing awareness and acceptance of mental issues among the patients and their near and dear ones will lead to a demand of a good mental health insurance policy. The stakeholders will have to ensure that such patients are backed by insurance in order to meet the expenses arising out of treating mental illnesses.
Also, read: Health Insurance for COVID-19
The need for making an informed choice in case of health insurance is paramount. A policy with wrong inclusions can be worthless. Therefore, one should make an informed choice by getting all doubts cleared with the insurance company.
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