While mental illness still continues to be a taboo subject in our country, here’s all you need to know about mental Health Insurance.
We live in a society where talking about mental health or illness is still considered to a fairly big taboo. While a kidney failure, a heart condition, cancer etc. are considered to be life-threatening, most people still refuse to talk about mental illnesses. These illnesses have the power to turn any normal situation into a life-threatening scenario.
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There’s really nothing much that can be done to make a person suffering from mental illness feel better other than making an effort to understand their situation. Instead of saying things like—‘this is just a phase’, ‘don’t be depressed’, ‘I was sad too, I fought through it’, just listen to them. Every person is different and so is everyone’s struggle. Rather than comparing their problems to yours and trying to categorise them into a ‘big issue’ and a ‘petty issue’, help them work through it.
The good news here is that 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.”
What Are The Important Features Of This Act?
Here are some of the most crucial features of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017:
- Mental health care should be available to everyone through both public and private services. Every person has the right to access these facilities which must be readily available and affordable.
- A person who needs mental health care has the right to choose the way of treatment, and in case they are incapable of doing so, they can nominate someone to do it on their behalf.
- Central and state mental health authorities are responsible for maintaining a record of all mental health establishments, developing quality service, training law enforcement officials and advice the government on matters of mental health.
- One of the major developments that this bill brought into effect was the decriminalisation of suicide. If anyone tries to commit suicide, they will no longer be punished under the Indian Penal Code. Instead, it will be the government’s duty to look after their proper treatment and care. This will help reduce their chances of re-attempting the same.
- Another significant development under the same bill is—the provision of insurance for people suffering from mental illnesses. Most health insurers will be asked to cover various mental illnesses under Health Insurance cover. The only drawback about this progressive move is that it’ll raise the premium rates.
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What Are The Drawbacks Of This Act?
Here are the main shortcomings of this act:
- It declares mental illnesses as a clinical problem that can be treated by merely the use of medicines and clinical procedures. There’s no emphasis on the prevention of these illnesses and even the importance of mental well-being has been neglected.
- The definition of a ‘mental health professional’ hasn’t been made clear. The act fails to clearly list out the difference between a psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, psychiatris, and counsellor.
- Mental issues are considered to be a big taboo in our country. No provisions have been listed in the act to teach the society about the reality of mental illnesses.
- A complete list of treatment options is also not mentioned anywhere in the act that leads to confusion.
- No provision has been given for hearing of the cases that were submitted before the drafting of the bill.
- There are no options for the aftercare of patients.
- Since no provisions have been made for home-based treatment, the overall cost of treatment goes up.
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There are some customised plans provided by Apollo Munich that already offer a cover for mental illnesses. However, in most other cases, these illnesses are treated on an out-patient basis. The most important question that rises here is—why do we need to fight to get mental illnesses covered under Health Insurance. Why can’t they be considered as serious as a physical health condition?
There are various reasons behind mental health still being a taboo in India and this indirectly results in no cover for mental illnesses under various Health Insurance plans. Some of these are:
Lack Of Medicines
India is still far behind the rest of the world when it comes to making the latest medicines available for the treatment of various mental illnesses. We still rely on age-old natural treatment for everything.
For instance, if someone is having a panic attack, a cup of chamomile tea may only offer superficial aid. However, a panic attack is something that needs immediate attention and therefore, we need something super effective that can actually calm the person down, instead of just making them have tea.
Lack Of Proper Care And Support
Thanks to various celebrities openly talking about their mental health issues, at least some people have picked up the courage to seek help for their mental illnesses. The first step here is to identify that you have a problem and accept it. Of course, the people around you won’t let you accept it and will try their best to convince you that it’s just a ‘phase’.
With a state of affairs such as this, treating mental illness is next to impossible. If someone is suffering from a mental illness, instead of telling them stories of your bravery and how you overcame that ‘phase’ of your life, you need to show a little empathy.
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Lack Of Privacy
It’s so important for people to gossip about the mental health of someone and call them names, that they forget how negatively it can affect a person. If someone trusts you and shares something about their mental health, it automatically becomes your responsibility to keep that a secret. Unless you’re ready to commit to keeping their secrets safe, don’t get involved with them. But once they trust you, don’t let them down.
Insurers are gradually developing customised Health Insurance plans to specifically cover mental illnesses and cover all gaps in proper healthcare that should be made available. Hopefully, we’ll have all-inclusive Health Insurance plans soon. Till then, you can know more about other options.