By Pritika Singh
It is estimated that 6-7 percent of the population suffers from mental disorders. The recent Covid-19 pandemic further triggered mental health issues as several cases of depression, and anxiety due to fear and insecurities gave way to suicides.
In fact, mental health issues have seen a steady rise globally, accentuated further by the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
Mental health has been ignored in India for long
Mental health has been a taboo topic in the country for too long. As per a Deloitte report, the scale of mental disorders in India is huge, accounting for nearly 15 percent of the global mental health burden. Conversations around this topic have started becoming common only recently. Meanwhile, health insurance has
become one area that has seen a positive change in this regard.
To ensure that mental health receives equal attention in India, the Mental Health Care Act 2017 was passed on 7 April 2017 and came into force on 29 May 2018. The MHCA stated that mental health patients should be treated on an equal par
with patients suffering from physical ailments. This also includes getting coverage under health insurance plans. Since then, insurers have incorporated mental health conditions as a part of their health insurance offerings. However, awareness about this inclusion is highly needed.
Understanding mental illness & inclusions
According to the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, mental illness can be defined as having a “substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation, or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.” This definition also covers mental conditions related to the abuse of alcohol and drugs. However, mental retardation has been excluded from this. It is very crucial for any person who suffers from health problems related to the above-mentioned definition to be able to get coverage under their medical insurance.
Choosing the right plan to ensure mental health coverage in health insurance
It is important to note that different insurers may have different terms and conditions for mental health coverage within their medical insurance plans. This, at a time, can be confusing for those who are seeking mental health coverage in their healthcare plans. It is understood that the treatment of mental health conditions can be different from the treatment of physical conditions. For instance, a mental health patient is more likely to require outpatient treatment and OPD care.
Although not all health insurers are currently offering OPD coverage, it would be preferable to opt for health insurance plans that offer OPD coverage. This is because most cases of mental illness require therapy and counseling more than they require inpatient hospitalization. In a nutshell, mental health coverage in your health insurance ensures absolute protection. It is important to seek treatment for mental health issues, and it is equally important to ensure mental health coverage through a comprehensive insurance plan. Although awareness around health insurance has grown after the pandemic outbreak, most people are still not aware that mental health coverage is part of a comprehensive policy.
Due to misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses, those who suffer from mental health issues often feel hesitant about opting for the treatment. A health insurance policy that covers their mental health would not only bring a positive change but also motivate them to be more optimistic about treatment. In conclusion, neglecting one’s mental health could be a ticking bomb. It is advised to compare various available policies online, read inclusions and exclusions and then select a plan that suits you the best.
(The author is a CEO of Prayag Hospitals Group. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)