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The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 came into force from May 29, 2018. This Act mandates every insurer to ensure medical insurance for mental health ailments. Law had said that this would be similar to the regular health insurance available for physical illnesses.

On July 15, Member of Parliament (MP) from Jalandhar, Santokh Singh Chaudhary raised the question regarding insurance for mental health. He directed the question towards Union finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman.

The MP wished to know whether it is a fact that insurance for mental health has been launched by insurance companies in India and if so, the details thereof; and whether the Government has laid down any guidelines in this regard.

He also sought to know about the number of persons who have availed mental health insurance so far, State/ UT-wise; and the steps taken by the Government to increase the coverage of mental health insurance to all Indians.

In response to this query, Nirmala Sitharaman, said, “The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 has come into force from May 29, 2018 and Sec 21(4) of the said Act provides that 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.”

She informed, “Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued a Circular on 16th August 2018 and letter dated 22nd October 2018 directing all Insurance Companies to comply with the said provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017.”

IRDAI has also advised insurers to ensure that the persons affected with mental illness are given similar treatment as persons affected with physical illness and insurers may disseminate the underwriting policy put in place in this regard and communicate the same to their officials across all their offices and to salespersons working in the field.

Sitharamam explained, “Further, IRDAI has informed that 110 products covering mental illness have been approved by it subsequent to the issuance of Circular dated August 16, 2018. However, it has also been informed by IRDAI that State/UT wise data on mental health insurance is not maintained by it.”

The public sector general insurance companies have informed that approximately 1,00,000 persons across the country have been covered since 2018 under various products which include mental illness.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Shubhangi Parkar, Head of Psychiatrist department, KEM hospital, Mumbai, said, “Patients suffering from mental illness should get the insurance cover, as the disease and treatment is prolonged. Mental illness can lead to other physical disease as well. If people suffering from mental illness are given insurance cover, they will be benefited a lot.”

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