The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) on August 16, 2018 directed all the insurance companies to make a provision to cover mental illness also in insurance policies.
The authority referred to Section 21(4) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2O17 which states that every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness. The Act came into force on May 29, 2018.
Thus, all insurance companies were directed to comply with the aforesaid provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 with immediate effect.
Until now, health insurance policies did not cover mental illnesses. All of them exclude mental and psychiatric conditions.
As per the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences’ National Mental Health Survey of India of 2016-17, nearly 15 percent of Indian adults are in need of active intervention for one or more mental health issues.
Provisions of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
Definition of Mental Illness
As per the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, “mental illness” is defined as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, judgment, behavior, capacity to recognise reality, or mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs, but does not include mental retardation which is a condition of incomplete or arrested development of mind of a person, specially characterised by sub-normality of intelligence.
• Every person shall have the right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government.
• The right to access mental health care includes affordable, good quality of and easy access to services.
• Persons with mental illness also have the right to equality of treatment, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, free legal services, access to their medical records, and complain regarding deficiencies in provision of mental health care.
• The Act further states that every person with mental illness will be treated as equal to persons with physical illness when it comes to healthcare, including health insurance.
• Every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness.
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