The Mental Healthcare Act of 2017 came into effect on May 29.

Make provision for treatment of mental illnesses Regulator directs insurance companies
news Insurance Friday, August 17, 2018 - 19:09

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority directed all insurers in the country to comply with the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 and make provisions for treatment of mental illnesses.

“Reference is drawn to the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 which has come into force w.e.f 29.5.2018. As per Sec 21(4) of the said Act, every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness.

All insurance companies are hereby directed to comply with the aforesaid provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 with immediate effect,” the direction read.

According to the Mental Health Care Act 2017, “Every insurer shall make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness.”

When TNM contacted top insurance companies in the country in April 2018, none of them had any plans of introducing coverage for mental health at the time. We were told that if a client is to disclose her mental illness when applying for the insurance, there are high chances that her application will be rejected. Were she to not disclose her mental health illness, she still does not stand a good chance of availing an insurance, even for covering her physical health. At the time, a search on policy marketplaces online showed that no questions are asked about pre-existing mental illnesses of the prospective buyers.

Read: Indian law says mentally ill should get health insurance, but do companies offer them?

The Act came into effect on May 29.

“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 will 'normalize' diagnoses, reducing associated myths and stigma,” Jyoti Punja, COO and Customer Officer of Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company told Economic Times.

The National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 by NIMHANS said that nearly 11% of Indians — 150 million — above the age of 18 years suffer from mental disorders. It goes on to say that less than 30 million of them seek care.

Read: India has a new mental healthcare law, and here's all you need to know about it

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