The insurance regulator has asked insurance companies to make health insurance available for mental illnesses. As per the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, it is mandatory for insurance companies to offer medical insurance for mental illness treatments similar to the ones offered for treatment of physical illness.
The order by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) will mean therapy for mental health issues as well as medications and hospitalisation will be covered by health insurance. Therapy, one of the common treatments for mental illnesses costs about Rs 1,500-2,000 per session and is excluded from medical insurance policies.
Currently, almost all insurance companies exclude treatment for mental illnesses from health insurance. Only companies like New India Assurance offer specialised products that will cover mental illness.
Jyoti Punja, Chief Operating Officer and Customer Officer, Cigna TTK Health Insurance said the insurance of mental health is a progressive step in right direction.
“We believe it will certainly create awareness, acceptance, and inclusion when it comes to mental illness as any other ailment, while bringing mental health disorders at par with physical illnesses will ‘normalize’ diagnoses, reducing associated myths and stigma,” she added.
All insurance companies have been asked to comply with the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 with immediate effect.
Dr S Prakash, chief operating officer, Star Health Insurance said that mental health-related issues are most commonly faced by people in the age group of 18-35 years.
“Addressing mental health will influence economic productivity of our nation. The mental health insurance is a move in the right direction by IRDAI as this will ensure increased focus in this area,” he added.
In the next few weeks, insurance companies are expected to launch specialised products to cover mental health.