The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has asked insurers to include telemedicine in their medical insurance policies. In its set of guidelines, the IRDAI said that telemedicine would be part of the settlement claim policy of the insurers.
Telemedicine has been defined by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as the "delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health care professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities".
"Insurers are advised to allow telemedicine wherever consultation with a medical practitioner is allowed in the terms and conditions of the policy contract. Provision of allowing telemedicine shall be part of claim settlement of policy of the insurers and need not be filed separately with the Authority for any modification. However, the norms of sub-limits, monthly/annual limits etc. of the product shall apply without any relaxation," stated the regulator. It further added that telemedicine offered must be in compliance with the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines released on March 25 and as amended from time to time.
The guidelines by IRDAI to include telemedicine in the health policies would come as a relief to health insurance policyholders who would want to consult medical professionals online or through calls in order to avoid stepping outside. This would also be particularly helpful for patients with mild coronavirus symptoms who have been allowed by the government to home-quarantine and undergo treatment.
To this end, there are private hospitals that are offering home-care packages that involve doctor consultations and services of nurses electronically. Max Healthcare, Medanta and Fortis Healthcare are some of the hospitals rolling out this service. Coronavirus homecare packages start from around Rs 5,000 for a period of 15-17 days.