Cover For Mental Health: Read Between The Lines

Pandemic make mental ailments more common. The unnatural time makes makes mental health insurance a natural choice.

Cover For Mental Health: Read Between The Lines
Cover For Mental Health: Read Between The Lines
Milind V Kolhe - 10 February 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a plethora of tragic events. With a surge in deaths across the world, rising unemployment, declining economies and the uncertainty of any emerging sense of normalcy, mental health issues have seen a dramatic increase. After the lockdown in the country, there were many reports of people suffering from increased stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, denial, anger and fear in India. According to a health survey done by Bharti AXA, the findings stated almost 50 per cent of respondents above the age of 45 experienced anxiety due to not being able to meet friends or family members as against only 36 per cent of respondents between the age of 18 and 34.

Mental health issues have become more complex and challenging because of the social stigma with such conditions, an economically vulnerable population and restricted access to mental health infrastructure.

In a bid to make mental healthcare accessible and available to all, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has asked insurers to include coverage for mental illnesses as a part of the regular health insurance policies offered by the companies. According to the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, every insurer should make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness and all insurance companies are required to comply with the aforesaid provisions of the Act.

If you think one needs to be really depressed to get mental health insurance claim, you’re mistaken. Work stress can also take a heavy toll on your physical and mental health. According to research, 60-80 per cent of accidents that occur at the workplace are a result of stress. Therefore, all working professionals must have a policy that adequately covers mental health. That’s not all, stressed people also tend to spend 46 per cent more on their healthcare compared to relaxed working professionals.

While most of the health insurance policies cover only in-patient’s mental health expenses, there are some exceptional medical insurance plans that cover out-patients too. In-patients are the patients that are admitted in the hospital on detection of an illness or for diagnosis. Out-patients are those who visit the hospital only for a session or consultation.

Some health insurance policy providers do not cover existing mental illnesses. Therefore, if you are suffering from a mental ailment and are looking to buy health insurance, then make sure to check if your health insurance policy covers pre-existing ailments.

Just like any other health insurance plan, mental health insurance will most likely also have exclusions. Exclusions are essentially scenarios that your insurance plan does not cover. This is important to know before purchasing any health insurance plan

Bharti AXA General Insurance health products follow the regulatory guidelines on mental health for the products offered.

For insurers, covering mental health is still at a nascent stage in our country, especially when it comes to the implementation of these policies.

Mental health in India is finally getting the required attention it deserves. The social stigma on proper mental health evaluation and care is still high in the country, however, acknowledgement from national regulatory bodies give it the proper standing it calls for. We can only hope that these changes will encourage individuals to also pay more attention to the rising mental health issues in the country and acquire the right health insurance protection that cover them sufficiently.

The author is Chief Underwriting and Reinsurance Officer, Bharti AXA General Insurance

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author's own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.