IRDAI has made it mandatory for all health insurers to provide adequate coverage for mental illnesses and related ailments in the regular health insurance policy.
If you have ever in your life heard about the term ‘mental health’ and have thought it doesn’t bother you, you may just want to keep reading. While the information around mental health and mental illness may have existed for several decades, the real conversation has now become far more open and relevant, and for all good reasons. As per most experts, mental illness can affect anyone any day of the year. Considering the fact that we celebrate a World ‘Day’ for almost anything and everything possible, dedicating a day for ‘World Mental Health’ feels significantly relevant and worthy of utmost attention. Not to miss, mental health problems are one of the main causes of disease and death burden globally. In India, approximately one in four people experience a mental health problem each year and they range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar.
World Mental Health Day is organized every year on the 10th of October by the World Federation for Mental Health. The day provides an amazing opportunity for all to raise awareness around mental health issues and advocate against the social stigma that surrounds mental health. The day even provides an opportunity to add to the wider conversation that occurs on various social media channels, television and elsewhere. This year, the theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Suicide Prevention’. WHO believes it is important to emphasise on suicide because around 8,00,000 people die due to suicide every year, which means one person every 40 seconds. Experts believe suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan and it is important to implement effective and efficient interventions to prevent suicide and suicide attempts throughout the globe.
Most importantly, it isn’t just about the awareness around mental health, most people restrict themselves from disclosing mental illness just because of the disgrace surrounding the topic. As per a recent media report, over 55 per cent of Indian adults suffering from mental illness do not receive any treatment throughout their lives just because they do not disclose they are suffering from any mental health related illness.
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Considering the current situation and in order to promote awareness around mental health, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has made it mandatory for all health insurers to provide adequate coverage for mental illnesses and related ailments in the regular health insurance policy. The regulator further made it clear that insurers now cannot deny coverage to policyholders who have used opioids or anti-depressants in the past. With the new law in place, the insurers now cannot deny coverage to customers with a proven history of clinical depression, personality or neurodegenerative disorders, sociopathy and psychopathy.
With the latest announcement, IRDAI aims at making mental healthcare available to all. In line with the directions of IRDAI, insurers have started customizing products that cater to the specific needs of people suffering from mental illnesses. Two prominent insurers, Reliance Health Insurance Company and Max Bupa Health Insurance, have already introduced health plans which are specifically designed for people suffering from mental illnesses.
Max Bupa’s Health Pulse Plan provides cover for treatment of Mental Disorders. The customers are covered up to the entire sum insured. For now, the plan is restricted for treatment of patients residing in tier 2 and 3 cities. However, eventually the plan will also cover people residing in tier 1 cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. Similarly, HDFC Ergo’s Critical Illness Plan – Platinum covers a popular mental disorder – Alzheimer, among 15 other critical illnesses.
(By Amit Chhabra, Head-Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com)