More than 6.5% of the Indian population suffers from some form of a serious mental disorder. Isn’t this shocking? A study was conducted by the National Care Of Medical Health which shows India is the most depressed country in the World.
Why should mental health be taken seriously? Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it’s more common and harder to bear. Insurers did not take mental health insurance seriously, until IRDA stepped in. The IRDA has asked insurers to offer cover for mental illness in medical insurance plans. Insurers will now have to adhere to the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
According to the Mental Healthcare Act, mental illness is described as a substantial disorder of mood, perception, orientation or thinking, which grossly impairs your behavior, judgment and the capacity to recognize reality or ability. Poor mental health leads to alcohol and drug abuse.
The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 aims to:
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The mental health workforce is very low in India. There are just 0.29 psychiatrists, 0.07 psychologists, and 0.80 mental health nurses for every 1 Lakh citizens. This is very low for a country which could have an estimated 10.6% of the population, suffering from mental illnesses. Just 1 psychiatric for every 37,000 people is a disaster. Psychologists are even rarer.
India has just 800 inpatient care facilities which includes state mental hospitals, psychiatric units in general hospitals, forensic inpatient units, and residential care facilities.
Your health insurance plan covers inpatient hospitalization and not outpatient treatment. This means doctor consultancy fees and medicines are not payable. You are covered for hospitalization of a mental illness. Sadly, just a very small proportion of people with mental illnesses need hospitalization. The vast majority of people with mental illnesses need outpatient treatment, (This is consultations and medicines), which are not covered in most health insurance plans. There are high chances that insurers could have exclusions vis-à-vis mental illnesses just like physical ailments.
The insurance market is under penetrated vis-à-vis outpatient treatment. There are very few health insurance plans which cover outpatient treatment or OPD and the cover is not high. Something must be done about this.
Mental illness is just a disorder. It doesn’t define the person. The person is suffering from a mental illness. He needs to be addressed in a more mindful way.
Ignore myths and misconceptions on mental illness and focus on the facts.
Understand mental health issues, mental health disorders and mental illnesses. Spread knowledge on mental illness and treatment among friends, colleagues and family.
Do you treat a person who suffers from a physical illness in a bad way? If a person suffers from a stomach ailment, do you judge him or treat him negatively? So, why do this to a person who suffers from mental disorders?
This is medical insurance for the treatment of mental illnesses, just like physical illnesses. However, this has a lot of shortcomings which must be addressed. Inpatient hospitalization cover focuses only on mental illnesses which require hospitalization. Most people who suffer from mental illness require outpatient medical treatment.
Many mental conditions have comorbidity. There’s high depression in people suffering from cancer and chronic illnesses. Insurers must look into offering products with Inpatient hospitalization cover only, with OPD for comorbid cases. Insurers have data on these cases, and pricing of products isn’t an issue. This helps high-risk individuals avail mental health insurance.
Inpatient and OPD Cover offers comprehensive insurance to people suffering from mental illnesses. OPD cover is very important and this plan offers it. Insurers could struggle with pricing and they must have strong claim settlement processes in place, as frequency of claims are high. This policy could be made available for groups of people to bring down the cost of insurance. These plans could have policy deductibles to reduce costs and a provision for profit-sharing between the insurer and the group.
SEE ALSO: Mental Illness: Health Insurance
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