India insurers must cover mental illness

The Insurance Regulatory Developmment Authority of India has announced that all insurers operating in India must now cover mental illness.
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The Insurance Regulatory Developmment Authority of India (IRDAI) has announced that all insurers operating in India must now cover mental illness.

The Indian insurance regulator, referring to the Mental Healthcare Act 2017, which came into force on 29 May this year and states that insurers should not discriminate against customers suffering from mental health issues, has mandated that all Indian insurers must now offer provisions for these conditions in the same manner that they would offer coverage for physical illness and injury.

Speaking to the website Medical Dialogues, Swadeep Srivastava, Managing Partner and Chief Belief Officer at IVH SeniorCare, praised the move: “Despite its high prevalence in India, especially among senior citizens, mental illness is a stigma in our society. According to a study, one in five of the older adults are suffering from one or the other mental health problems in India. IRDAI’s initiative takes the society a step closer to perceive, accept, understand and normalise the concept of mental illness.”

Jyoti Punja, Chief Operating Officer and Customer Officer at Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company, agreed: “We believe it will certainly create awareness, acceptance and inclusion when it comes to mental illness as any other ailment, while bringing mental health disorders at par with physical illnesses … [normalising] diagnoses [and] reducing associated myths and stigma.”

Some insurers, however, have warned that major changes will be necessary, as existing product structures may make it difficult to comply with the IRDAI’s mandate.

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