Complementary? Covered: Indian Insurance Includes AYUSH
If you’re treated in India using complementary wellness methods, your health insurance should cover it. This is according to the IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority), which has recently issued a notification to insurance companies that they should cover treatment by the Indian System of Medicine under their health insurance policies. The notification includes alternative medical techniques like Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), which is a change that came into force on the 18th of February this year.
However, there is a clause in the new regulation; patients should be given treatment in either a government hospital or an institute recognized by the government. Patients in India also have the option of being treated in centres that have been recognised by the QCI (Quality Council of India) or NABH (National Accreditation Board of Health) or any other suitable institution. According to Dr GS Lavekar, senior consultant and former DG at the department of AYUSH, the inclusion of Ayurveda, Homeopathy and other forms of medicine into the health insurance policies was impossible in previous years, but today, the IRDA has recognized the potential of these types of treatment modalities.
The doctor also noted that, without a joint effort taken by the industry – the Ministry of Health and Department of AYUSH – and by the then secretary of the department, S Jalja, in particular, this result wouldn’t have been possible. However, although the industry is thrilled at the new regulation, medical and insurance companies might not want the inclusion to be made. This means that it may take some time before the inclusion of AYUSH occurs in the current insurance covers.
Prabodh Shah, president, Gujarat Ayurvedic Aushadh Manufacturers Association (GAAMA), commented, ‘This is a great news for us, especially since more and more patients now will be able to take the benefit of Ayurvedic treatment, giving more credibility and recognition to our industry. But at the same time, we fear that the insurance company will take their own time in adopting this regulation creating problems for us.’ However, there are some companies – such as Insurance Company, Star Health and Allied Insurance, and L&T General Insurance – who have already started offering insurance cover for patients wishing to improve their wellbeing with AYUSH.