It is mandatory for insurance companies to offer covers for mental illnesses.
Indians now have 110 insurance products to choose for their mental health ailments. Responding to a query in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the insurance regulator has approved 110 such products since August 16, 2018.
The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 came into force from May 29, 2018. This Act mandates every insurer to ensure medical insurance for mental health ailments. Law had said that this would be similar to the regular health insurance available for physical illnesses.
The public sector general insurance companies have informed that approximately 1,00,000 persons across the country have been covered since 2018 under various products which include mental illness.
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) had issued a circular in August 2018 asking insurers to comply with the said provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017.
IRDAI had also advised insurers to ensure that the persons affected with mental illness are given similar treatment as persons affected with physical illness. They were also asked to disseminate the underwriting policy put in place in this regard and communicate the same to their officials across all their offices and to sales persons working in the field.
Mental health coverage means that insurance will provided for cases of clinical depression which is one of the common ailments. This includes therapy with a professional psychologist/psychiatrist for mental health issues as well as medications and hospitalisation will be covered by health insurance. Therapy, one of the common treatments for mental illnesses costs about Rs 1,500-2,000 per session and is excluded from medical insurance policies.The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 looks at providing mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness. All related services like hospitalisation and treatment are covered under the Act, which also prohibits discrimination against people with mental health issues.