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Alternative Medicine: Find Out what's Covered in Your Health Insurance Plan

09 December, 2015

IRDAI issued a regulation in 2012 - 13, advising insurance companies to cover treatment expenses arising from alternative and non-allopathic treatments. Till date, most insurers do not provide such coverage because of the complexities associated with alternative care.

A few companies cover alternative treatments undertaken at medical colleges and government hospitals. Unfortunately, only a few accredited hospitals provide such treatment facilities. Additionally, insurance companies have numerous conditions and caps, even if the alternative treatment is covered under the insurance plan.

Reasons for Insurance Companies Reluctance

• Most alternative treatments are considered outside mainstream health care and are therefore not covered under health insurance plans

• Treatment costs vary from one therapy and practitioner to another, making it difficult to gauge or verify costs

• No central governing body is available to provide clarifications on alternative treatments, making it tough for insurance companies to underwrite such cover

• Several patients combine allopathic treatment with alternative methods, which further complicates the provision of coverage under standard health insurance

Coverage Available for Alternative Methods

An increase in the popularity of alternative treatments like acupuncture, ayurveda, homeopathy and reflexology has made it necessary for health insurers to provide policies that cater to these needs. As a result, it is now possible for consumers to purchase a health policy that covers certain alternative therapies. Many companies are already providing such coverage under group plans.

To avail coverage for alternative treatment, you will first need to purchase a standard health insurance policy. You must carefully read the terms and conditions to understand the scope of coverage for non-allopathic treatments. Buyers must seek clarifications from the company on the amounts, hospital network, inclusions and exclusions, and other conditions related to such coverage.

Insurance providers will not provide compensation if the treatment is not undertaken at a government institute or an institution recognized by the Quality Control of India.

Royal Sundaram's Lifeline health insurance plan is a holistic indemnity policy. It covers the health needs of buyers and their families at affordable rates. It offers cover for Ayush treatment under all its plans in the Life Line health insurance product.