Filing claims on mental health services: How to make the process hassle free

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Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet many individuals fail to prioritise their mental well-being due to a lack of understanding and societal stigma associated with mental health disorders. And when it comes to health insurance, one rarely takes their mental health coverage needs into account in the insurance claim process. Filing a claim for mental health services can be confusing, but with a bit of knowledge, you can streamline the process and ensure that your insurance covers your mental health services.

Before we delve into the process of filing a claim for mental health services, it is essential to understand what you should ask your insurance company. This will help you to understand your policy’s mental health benefits and limitations, and make informed decisions about which mental health services you should seek.

First, ask your insurance company what mental health services are covered under your insurance plan. This could include therapy, outpatient medications, inpatient treatment, and more. It’s crucial to understand which services are covered, so you later don’t end up paying for services that are not covered under your policy.

Second, inquire about any limitations to the mental health services covered under your plan. For example, your insurance policy may have a limit on the number of therapy sessions per year, or you may need to get pre-authorization before seeking treatment.

Third, ask your insurance company about any exclusions for mental health coverage. Some policies may not cover certain diagnoses or treatments, so it’s essential to understand these limitations before seeking treatment.

Finally, find out if your insurance policy covers telehealth or virtual mental health services. With the rise of virtual healthcare, many insurance policies now offer coverage for online therapy sessions. This can be especially helpful for individuals who have difficulty accessing in-person mental health services or who live in remote areas.

Once you have a clear understanding of your mental health benefits and limitations, it’s time to file a claim for mental health services. Now, claim processing is dependent on a number of factors – accuracy of information shared by policyholder, eligibility, policy coverages, and so forth. However, it is important to note that the claims processing for mental health disorders is similar to that for physical disorders.

According to the Mental Healthcare Act 2017, health insurance providers are required to offer coverage for mental health disorders similar to coverage for physical illnesses, although the specific coverage may vary based on the insurance plan. It is important to note that only mental illnesses requiring hospitalization or immediate care are mandated to be covered. Some plans may cover therapy and counseling for certain mental health disorders, but they may have limits on the number of sessions or require pre-authorisation. To understand the coverage for mental health services, it is necessary to review the insurance plan and speak with the insurance provider.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued circulars to ensure that mental health services are included in health insurance plans. Insurance providers are also required to process claims related to mental health services within the same timeframe as claims for physical health services and appoint a nodal officer to handle mental health claims efficiently.

To make the claims process faster and easier, policyholders should maintain all necessary documents, inform the insurance provider as soon as possible after receiving mental health services, and follow up to ensure that the claim is processed promptly and efficiently.

The author is Chief Medical Officer, Medi Assist. Views are personal.

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