In India, mental health issues are avoided and ignored. Any discussions on such topics are generally met with cold responses. However, there has been a significant shift in people’s perception of such issues over the past few years. With many celebrities worldwide speaking openly about the importance of addressing mental well-being and mental health, there is a growing awareness among people in India.
Also, with the importance of mental wellness garnering attention in the media, there has been a visible shift in how health insurance policies are framed. Until a few years ago, health insurance coverage in India was restricted to physical ailments or diseases. However, with the introduction of the Mental Healthcare Act in 2017, the insurers are framing new health insurance plans that give equal importance to physical and mental health issues.
What is mental illness?
The Mental Health Act has a specific definition for mental illness. According to the act, if there is a considerable disorder in memory, orientation, thinking, mood, perception of an individual that hinders their behaviour, judgement, decision-making ability, or capability to function, it qualifies as mental illness. One of the noteworthy things about this definition is that it explicitly keeps mental retardation as the condition occurs primarily due to incomplete brain development.
Benefits of mental health insurance policy
- A health insurance policy for mental illness typically allows you to get coverage against expenses related to hospitalisation, diagnosis tests, ambulance charges, room rent, doctor consultation, etc. The benefits of a mental health insurance policy are much like a standard healthcare plan.
- A mental health insurance plan covers several mental illnesses like mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety-related issues, acute depression, etc. Typically, a mental health insurance policy also covers conditions that affect memory, behaviour, thinking, and cognitive abilities. The coverage offered may differ based on the plan you purchase. So, it is paramount that you carefully look at the inclusions and policy terms and conditions before buying.
- Some insurance companies also provide coverage against OPD (out-patient department). This may include expenses related to counselling, rehabilitation, and consultation.
What is the waiting period in mental health insurance?
Like a standard healthcare plan, mental health insurance policies have a waiting period clause for pre-existing conditions. The waiting period may be different for different conditions, and it may even differ from insurer to insurer. However, most insurance companies in India have a waiting period of 48 months before you can file a claim for any mental illness.
You must compare different plans and choose a policy with the least waiting period. Also, it would help if you bought a mental healthcare policy as soon as you can so that you can have the assurance of insurance coverage against future uncertainties.
Is it necessary to buy a mental health insurance policy?
Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the number of people suffering from mental health issues. Stressful work environments and environmental factors are the major causes of mental illnesses. Also, poverty and unemployment are linked to mental health issues. In such a situation, mental health insurance has become a necessity for all. Having a health cover for mental issues allows you to focus on your overall well-being.