by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by TMR GRAPHICS
THE growing need in coverage for mental illness has spurred insurance group Etiqa to launch AafiahCare, the first-in-Malaysia standalone Takaful Critical Illness plan that covers 68 critical illnesses.
According to a statement last week, Etiqa noted the number of Malaysians suffering from mental health problems was a worrying trend with 29.2% suffering from this illness, a double-digit increase between 1996 and 2015 with 4.2 million people diagnosed.
Etiqa Family Takaful Bhd CEO Zafri Ab Halim (picture) said mental illness is costly to treat and is not easily cured.
“Since the launch of our Critical Illness Rider (IL CI Plus) with mental illness coverage last year, Etiqa has seen an increased demand of 20% one month after IL CI Plus was launched,” he said.
Zafri said the group is encouraged by this response and AafiahCare is in line with the principles of value-based initiatives (VBI) to support people, planet and prosperity.
It will cover four types of mental illnesses namely bipolar affective disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
Zafri said eligibility is easy and straightforward, with acceptance by Etiqa as a prerequisite and is subject to the normal underwriting process.
“The range of mental illness coverage is between RM7,500 and up to a maximum of RM30,000 depending on the sum covered.
“Most beneficial to the participants is that Etiqa does not define how this amount is to be used, thus the participant may use it for consultation fees, medication, or hospitalisation, as they see fit.
In addition, AafiahCare features mental illness coverage as an additional benefit that does not reduce the coverage amount,” Zafri said.
The first company believed to have included mental illness in its plans is AIA Malaysia Bhd.
The company announced its decision in July 2019 and said it will provide coverage for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, bipolar disorder and postpartum depression.
The Malaysia Psychiatric Association has been championing for mental illnesses to be included in health insurance premiums and has asked for the Health Ministry to engage with insurance companies to work together for this cause.