Will health insurance plans cover mental illness?

Posted by diptigoel on April 4th, 2019

The most important yet the most ignored aspect of a well functioning human body is the mental health of an individual.  Mental health refers to the cognitive, emotional and behavioural well being of a person i.e. it is all about how an individual thinks, behaves and feels. Mental health is a very crucial aspect as it directly affects the actions of an individual. Mental health is very essential when it comes to the proper functioning of the human body. Since it does not affect the body directly and the damage is gradual, mental health is often ignored. Mental health must be maintained to keep the mind and the body at peace. 

When it comes to taking care of you and your family’s well being, health insurance is the best option to opt for. Health Insurance helps you cover all the ill-timed costs when you, unfortunately, counter a disease or any medical emergency without your savings taking a hit. It also protects you from heavy out of pocket expenditures in any case of unfortunate events. Until now, varied health insurance plans covered all the diseases diagnosed by an individual except mental illness.

Recently, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) issued an order with immediate effect which directed all the insurance companies to provide best health insurance plans for mental illness and to end the differentiation between physical and mental health as both are equally important. The order titled as, ‘The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017’ comes as a relief to the Indian population as nearly 15% of the adult population suffer from mental health issues which require immediate medical attention as observed by the National Mental Health Survey of India for FY16. As a developing nation, this act is of major importance as it will help people with mental illness come out easily by losing their inhibitions and it will no longer be a taboo. It will also help in providing easier mental healthcare access and pave way for a better mental healthcare infrastructure in the country.

The advantages of The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 are numerous. People already having health insurance plans will be able to avail treatment for mental health if in case they are diagnosed. It will also result in a reduction of costs for mental healthcare over time. Health insurance policies which cover OPD will cover hospitalization and mental counselling and associated medication. However, since the policy is an addition to an already existing policy, the IRDAI is yet to define the policy guidelines for the inclusion of mental healthcare. Important factors such as treatment modalities with the health insurance plans, adequate licensing for mental health professionals and shared responsibility between medical insurers and healthcare professionals are yet to be decided upon.

Health insurance plans are an important service for all individuals alike and now with the inclusion of mental healthcare, it is necessary for an individual to search and get the best health insurance plans for themselves and their family. 

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