Chief Minister’s health insurance scheme in Tamil Nadu to cover mental illnesses too

Move comes in the wake of integration with Ayushman Bharat

November 19, 2019 01:23 am | Updated 01:23 am IST - CHENNAI

 “This is a proactive step from the government to make mental illness and mental disorders less stigmatising,” said a psychiatrist.

“This is a proactive step from the government to make mental illness and mental disorders less stigmatising,” said a psychiatrist.

The Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CMCHIS) is all set to cover mental illnesses. To start with, it will be rolled out for patients requiring admission for treatment of various psychiatric disorders in government hospitals.

CMCHIS, that was launched in 2012, was integrated with the Central government’s flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) in September, 2018. The move to bring mental health under CMCHIS comes after the integration, as PMJAY has a package covering a list of mental illnesses including schizophrenia and mental retardation, according to officials.

In fact, the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 laid down the need to extend insurance cover for treatment of mental illness as part of right to equality and non-discrimination: “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”.

T. S. Selvavinayagam, additional director, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said CMCHIS had earlier introduced coverage for autism.

PMJAY consisted of a package for patients requiring admission in the general ward or intensive care unit for any psychiatric illnesses.

In-patient admissions

“Right now, we do not have much experience in managing psychiatric disorders. So, to start with, the insurance cover will be reserved to government institutions for in-patient admissions. We will try this for a year, and based on how it works, we will decide on extending it to the private sector,” he said.

As per the AB-PMJAY, the following conditions are covered in packages: organic, including symptomatic, mental disorders; mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use; schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders; mood (affective) disorders; neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders, behavioural syndromes associated with physiological disturbance and physical factors, and mental retardation.

It also includes pre-electro convulsive therapy and pre-transcranial magnetic stimulation package for investigations and electro convulsive therapy (per session) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (per session).

Equal importance

“It is good that mental health is being given equal importance like physical health. Covering therapies such as electro convulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation will be beneficial,” a psychiatrist in a government hospital said.

Lakshmi Vijayakumar, psychiatrist and founder of SNEHA, said it was an absolutely important move. “Many private insurers do not cover mental health disorders. This is a proactive step from the government to make mental illness and mental disorders less stigmatising,” she said,

“The government should ensure that it is available in all in-patient settings,” Ms. Vijayakumar added .

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