Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has directed all the insurance companies to make a provision to cover mental illness also in insurance policies.
“Reference is drawn to the Mental Healthcare Act, 2O17 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, IRDAI said in its orders issued on August 16.
According to the Mental Healthcare Act-2017, every person with mental illness shall be treated as equal to persons with physical illness in the provision of all healthcare.
The Act further says 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.
Here are the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Bill:
- Rights of persons with mental illness: This provision states that every person will have the right to access mental health care from services which are operated or funded by the government. It also includes good quality, easy and affordable access to services. It also provides for the right to equality of treatment, seeks to protect such persons from inhuman treatment, access to free legal services, their medical records, and the right to complain in the event of regarding deficiencies in provisions.
- Advance Directive: This provision empowers a mentally-ill person to have the right to make an advance directive that explains how she/he wants to be treated for the requisite illness and who her/his nominated representative shall be. This directive has to be vetted by a medical practitioner.
- Mental Health Establishments: This provision states that every mental health establishment has to be registered with the respective Central or State Mental Health Authority. For registration, the concerned establishment needs to fulfill different criteria as mentioned in the Bill.
- The bill also outlines the procedure and process for admission, treatment and subsequent discharge of mentally ill persons.
- Mental Health Review Commission and Board: This is a quasi-judicial body responsible for reviewing the procedure for making advance directives. It will also advise the government on the protection of mentally ill persons’ rights. It further states that the body in agreement with the state governments constitutes Mental Health Review Boards in states’ districts.
- Decriminalising suicide and prohibiting electro-convulsive therapy: The most notable of all is this provision effectively decriminalizes suicide attempt under the Indian Penal Code by mentally ill persons by making it non-punishable. Electro-convulsive therapy, which is allowed only with the use of anesthesia, is however out of bounds for minors.