Good news for all the medical insurance policyholders. If you have a mental patient in your family, your medical insurance policy will provide coverage for him/her. IRDAI, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has directed the insurers to provide medical insurance to cover treatments for mental illness. As per Sec 21(4) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, every medical insurer will provide coverage for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness. So, all the health insurance providers are hereby directed to obey the aforementioned provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 with instant effect. This mental healthcare act 2017 came into appearance in 2018 May.
Earlier Situation in Indian Mental Healthcare
According to NMHS, National Mental Health Survey which is done by National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in 2016, approximately 150 million Indians need mental healthcare services. However, in real, only 10-12 per cent of them ask for support. While a major section of the society considers mental illness a banned subject, a hefty section out there cannot afford the high cost of mental treatment. The survey also mentions that nearly 15% of Indian adults are in requirement of active involvements for one or more mental health issues. The significant reason why Indian mental healthcare is so costly is because no leading insurance company provides a policy that covers mental illness and even if they have an insurance product associated with mental illness.
Situation will Change
Now the situations are likely to get changed as IRDAI has asked insurance companies to provide coverage for mental illness under the medical insurance policy. At present, all the health insurers provide individual and family health coverage that includes hospitalization or treatment at hospitals. However, health insurance providers should provide mental illness cover as it is mandatory as per Mental HealthCare Act. A few insurers have welcomed the progress and it is predictable that in the next few weeks, insurance companies will launch specialized products to cover mental health. However, the premiums are expected to increase due to the addition of mental illness such as depression and anxiety under insurance coverage. But still we can consider that it is a great move by IRDAI.
Comments of Insurance Experts
- According to chief operating officer and customer officer, Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company, mental health insurance coverage is a progressive step of IRDAI in the right direction and it will make sure a life of dignity to those who have mental illness.
- Ashish Mehrotra, MD & CEO of Max Bupa Health Insurance says that they welcome the great move of IRDAI to include mental illnesses in the domain of health insurance coverage for the insurance policyholders. This is certainly a long-awaited insertion, and it is a much needed step for those dealing with any form of mental illness.
Hence, the insurers will now have to make the calculation to estimate the premium rates for mental disorders. Furthermore, premium limits maybe set on the total amount of coverage or claims for different treatments pertaining to mental illness.