Ensure health insurance cover for mental illness
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Insurance companies in India do not cover mental illness as they suspect many of the claims to be spurious and difficult to ascertain. The stigma of mental illness and the perceived high cost of insurance premium for patients under prolonged treatment are other deterrents.
Patients are sometimes forced to stop treatment as medical bills mount and there is no insurance cover. Doctors often hide the diagnosis of patients admitted to hospitals to ensure the latter can claim insurance money, resulting in allegations of corruption and delay in effective treatment.
In the USA, the Mental Health Parity Act (1996) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) have ensured insurance companies cannot discriminate between people with physical and mental illness. In India, the new Mental Health Care Bill (2013) has taken the first step towards equality for all patients. The future management of mental illness in India depends to a large extent on the preservation of the rights of afflicted people. It is time the Indian government steps in and ensures health insurance cover for mental illness.
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