Non-life insurers to offer cover for alternative treatments

At present, alternative treatments are offered by seven non-life insurers out of 24 companies

May 31, 2012 10:58 IST | India Infoline News Service
According to media reports, many non-life insurers are in the process of launching retail health insurance policies that cover alternative forms of treatments, while several insurers—which already cover such treatments—are in the process of increasing the limits.
Alternative treatments are also called ‘Ayush’, includes ayurveda, unani, sidha and homeopathy. At present, alternative treatments are offered by seven non-life insurers out of 24 companies with certain limits and conditions. Some of the insurers that cover hospitalisation under alternative treatments are New India Assurance, United India, Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and Tata AIG among others.
In many ways, treatment under alternative forms of medicines is quite similar to the treatment procedures followed under allopathic medicine. But, because alternative forms of medicine are still considered outside the scope of traditional medicine, most non-life insurers do not cover such treatments in their health insurance plans.
The reports said, “New India Assurance, which covers alternative treatments up to 25% of the sum insured, has already filed a product with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). The product would cover a higher amount for alternative treatments against the existing limit of up to 25% of the sum insured.”  The state-run general insurer covers ayurveda, unani and homeopathy, if the treatment is availed in a government hospital.
Amit Sethi, owner, Amvi Financials, says, “It is a good move by non-life insurers because the number of patients seeking alternative medical care in India is more over allopathic treatment. There are some diseases for which ayurvedic treatment is more widely used. An insurance cover to alternative treatment would benefit the insured and also provide more market penetration to the insurer.”
“ICICI Lombard General Insurance too has filed a product with IRDA for approval. According to the company the will provide outdoor patient department (OPD) coverage under alternative treatments, but without hospitalisation benefit,” the reports added.
Pankaaj Maalde, head-financial planning, ApnaPaisa.com, says, “In case of allopathic medicines, some people are worried about the side effects arising out of these medicines. In some cases, with the use of alternative medicines, a surgery can also be avoided. Many people are already taking alternative treatments to cure their diseases, now they can also claim the amount spent on these treatments.”
In April, Tata AIG General Insurance launched MediPrime that will pay for alternative treatment with limits. MediPrime provides benefit for 140 daycare procedures which do not require 24 hours of hospitalisation due to technological advancement. MediPrime’s Ayush Benefit provides coverage for non-allopathic in-patient treatments. It is covered up to Rs. 20,000 (sum insured up to Rs. 4 lakh) or up to Rs. 25,000 (sum insured above Rs. 4 lakh).
Mr Sethi adds, “The policyholder would now be able to opt for an alternative treatment. In a situation when patient has to make choice between allopathy and alternative treatment then due to insurance limitation he has to opt for allopathy always. Now policyholder can opt for best suitable treatment.”
Mr Maalde says, “The number of hospitals offering ayurvedic and homeopathy treatments in India are limited compared to allopathic hospitals. At the same time, these hospitals are also expensive. There is a general clause in a health insurance policy which says that you have to be hospitalised for 24 hours to claim under health policy except in case of day care treatments. We don’t know whether the condition will be waived for alternative medicines or not.”
He further adds, “It is very important that ayurvedic and homeopathic hospitals are also included under cashless facility so that people are relaxed from financial burden.”

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