The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority India (IRDAI) has ordered all the insurance companies to make provisions for including mental illnesses in their health insurance policies with an immediate effect. The circular was passed in accordance with the provisions of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017. As per Section 21 (4) of the said Act, every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of medical illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness.
Till now, people with mental ailments even with the mild conditions of illness were refused of the medical insurance cover for availing a treatment. Moreover, mental illness has always not received much attention in contrary to other ailments in India. Various perceptions, beliefs and myths surrounding mental illness are also the reasons for prevailing ignorance. Additionally, the soaring cost of treatments makes it more unaffordable for many people.
A recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) points towards serious mental health crisis in India. With an estimated 3.8 crore people suffering from anxiety and 5.6 crores suffering from depression, there is a 20% rise in suicide rates year on year. According to the National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) estimations, 15 crore Indians need mental health care at any given point in time. Now, with IRDAI’s decision to make provisions for mental illness treatment cover, many health insurance policies may possibly help the mentally ill person to access much needed mental care. This decision will certainly have a long-term positive impact on both the insurance industry and the society as a whole by contributing to more on mental health and productivity. However, the scope of coverage, pricing and underwriting mechanism needs to be worked out on the mental illness inclusion by every insurance company. India also has the severe shortage of physiatrists which the government needs to work on.
Amidst all the challenges, a well-constructed health insurance plan with comprehensive coverage for mental illness can contribute positively to economic productivity by creating awareness and encouraging people to seek medical help.
Check out the details of individual health insurance plans in India.