November 08, 2010

Health cover may include ayurveda, unani, siddha

A panel formed by the insurance council will probably recommend that domestic healthcare systems such as ayurveda , unani and siddha should be treated on par with allopathy when it comes to medical insurance, said a person familiar with the committee’s thinking.

“The department of Ayush has approached the General Insurance Council for looking at the possibility of accepting claims under the non-allopathic means of treatment,” said a person familiar with the development at the Council. “They made a presentation to council members, who in turn, have formed a three-member committee to look into the matter.”

The committee comprises chief executive officers from Star Health, Max Bupa and Apollo, the person said. It would examine the merits and demerits of the proposal and recommend processes to implement if it is convinced that these types of medicines should also be covered under health insurance. The Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority will take a call on the issue.

A large section of India’s more than a hundred crore population takes alternative means of treatment which is recognised by the government, but not so far by the insurance industry. Insurers where most of them are in a joint venture with a global company, say there is not an established way to verify these claims and no data to rely on.

“Under allopathic means of treatment, there are scientific studies and we know how long a treatment will take, how much will it cost,’’ said TA Ramalingam, head of underwriting, Bajaj Allianz General Life Insurance.

“But under the alternative means like homeopathy, we do not have enough data to cover them. For example, curing an ailment under homeopathy may take years, we would not have a structured way of looking at data. But under allopathic means of treatment, it’s more immediate, and hence, easily manageable.”

There is no registration for practitioners of alternate means of treatment either. There is no one body that recognises the institutes/hospitals that treat patients.

But the health and family welfare ministry is pushing hard for it as it is affordable and the majority of the population makes use of the domestic expertise in these areas. Allopathic medicines are expensive even for those who are in urban centres.

The Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy was created in March 1995 and re-named as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, or Ayush, in November 2003 to develop education & research in those fields.

Link: Original Article

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