Insurers to cover mental illness

• In a step towards reducing myths and stigma associated with mental illness, the insurance regulator today asked insurers to cover mental illness under the medical insurance policy, treating it at par with physical illness.

• In a circular, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority today asked insurers to make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness from immediate effect. Insurers today exclude mental illness from medical policies. However, globally companies cover mental illness after an initial waiting period of two-three years.

• The IRDAI’s directive follows the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 which has come into force from May 29, 2018.

• Mental healthcare includes analysis and diagnosis of a person’s mental condition and treatment as well as care and rehabilitation of such person for his mental illness or suspected mental illness.

• Insurers are looking at irdai for the definition of mental illness, which is a wide term. As per the Ministry of Law and Justice, mental illness is defined as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, the orientation of memory that grossly impairs judgement, behaviour, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.

• Also, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs, but does not include mental retardation which is a condition or incomplete development of the mind of a person, specially characterized by subnormality and intelligence.

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