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Insurers can’t deny cover for mental illness, adventure sports enthusiasts

IRDAI has came out with new rules that will have widespread ramifications for health insurers and public.

, TNN|
Updated: May 18, 2019, 11.25 AM IST
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IRDAI has said that insurers cannot discriminate on the basis of gender and identity.
(This story originally appeared in on May 18, 2019)
BENGALURU: Insurance regulator IRDAI on Friday came out with new rules that will have widespread ramifications for health insurers and the general public. Insurers henceforth cannot decline coverage to those who have used opioids or anti-depressants. Nor can they exclude those with a history of clinical depression, personality disorders, sociopathy, psychopathy, or neuro-degenerative disorders.

They cannot exclude kids suffering from development disorders such as Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism, or those suffering from dyslexia, stammering and other disorders of speech and language. Batting for the LGBTQ community, IRDAI has said that insurers cannot discriminate on the basis of gender and identity. Insurers cannot refuse to provide coverage or reject claims if a person is on life support. Insurers can reject claims only if the patient is certified as being in a vegetative state, but even then insurers will be required to provide coverage/pay expenses till that date.

For young girls and older women who suffer from excessive bleeding, hormonal changes due to onset of puberty or menopause, insurers can no longer exclude coverage or payment for treatment costs. Insurers cannot deny coverage to geriatric patients, suffering from age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and those suffering from rare or orphan diseases.

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Insurers will have to cover adventure sports such as dirt biking, paragliding, whitewater rafting, go-karting, F1 racing, and ethnic sports like jallikattu and kambala. This would be a relief to sports enthusiasts, clubs and adventure trip organisers.

Another important decision is that at the point of claims if the person is discovered to be a smoker or suffering from a disease/pre-existing condition, the insurer cannot reject the claim if he/she has been availing of insurance for eight years in continuity.

IRDAI has said that insurers cannot exclude coverage or reject claims if the policyholder has “failed to seek or follow medical advice or follow treatment”. Often patients undergoing treatment for a condition stop the treatment towards the final stages or stop taking drugs midway. Insurers have been known to penalise patients for failure to follow through on a prescribed regime.

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