News eDaily05 May 2017

India:New law pushes insurance cover for mental health treatment

| 05 May 2017

Insurers are looking to launch products or add clauses to their health policies to cover medical expenses incurred by those with mental illness, in the wake of the passing last month of the Mental Healthcare Bill by the Parliament.

The new Mental Healthcare Act 2017 contains the following clause: “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.” The new law also decriminalises suicide.

India currently does not have any insurance coverage for mental health disorders.

Currently, only one in 20 persons with anxiety, mood disorders and addictions get treated in India, shows a pan-India study of close to 25,000 people published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. The enormous treatment gap in mental illness cases is about 95%, with only five out of 100 people with common mental disorders receiving treatment.

The National Mental Health Survey in 2015-16 showed that of the nearly 150 million Indians needing mental health care services, less than 30 million are seeking care.

In the corporate sector, employers are becoming receptive to the needs of their employees with respect to mental health. This also includes insurance coverage for therapy and medication for depression. However, such covers are at a nascent stage.

Accessibility to quality mental health treatment at affordable prices is an issue. It is hoped that more mental health treatment facilities will be set up when there is wider insurance coverage of mental health disorders.

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