Even as 2020 is almost drawing to a close, the COVID 19 pandemic is not yet showing any signs of abating. With social distancing measures still being enforced, it is wise to go out only when really necessary. In fact, hospitals and clinics now encourage patients to turn to telemedicine services for instant access to medical care. And in order to support this initiative, the IRDAI has now instructed insurers to include coverage for telemedicine in health insurance policies where OPD is covered.
So, what is telemedicine?
Telemedicine refers to the use of digital or electronic platforms for healthcare service, in situations where the doctor and their patient cannot meet in person. One of the most common ways of accessing telemedicine is through video consultations with the doctor. They can offer a professional diagnosis in real time and only ask you to come in for a face-to-face meeting if absolutely necessary (if you need any additional tests).
The importance of telemedicine during COVID 19
At present, it is not advisable to simply walk into a hospital or clinic for a diagnosis. If you are COVID 19 positive, you may infect others; if you aren’t, you may pick up an infection. Telemedicine is helping make healthcare services accessible to everyone from the safety of their homes. It is also preventing hospitals and medical centres from getting overcrowded with walk-in patients. People can reach out to their doctors via online consultation and only head over for tests, if required.
Moreover, telemedicine is also helping keep vulnerable sections of the population safe from infection. For instance, pregnant women can avoid stepping out for their regular check-ups and instead connect with their doctor online.
The inclusion of telemedicine in health insurance
As per recent instructions from the IRDAI, insurers covering medical consultations in their health insurance policies must also include telemedicine charges too for coverage. So, if OPD forms a part of your health insurance, telemedicine charges would get covered under this section.
Do keep in mind that telemedicine charges too would be subject to the normal sub-limits set by the insurer for medical consultation coverage in your health insurance policy. Any charges incurred by the policyholder for telemedicine can be filed as per the normal claims process set by the insurer.
This new directive set by the IRDAI widens the scope of OPD coverage in health insurance. It would also make sense to look for OPD/medical consultation coverage when buying or renewing health insurance. Quite often, medical consultations can run into several thousand rupees. Getting coverage for these charges in your health insurance can prove to be a huge boon.
Moreover, we do not know how long the pandemic will last. Thus, at some point, most of us will need to turn to telemedicine to access healthcare, as required. Knowing that such services are covered can prove to be a huge boon in these trying times.
We hope that this article will help you gain an improved understanding of telemedicine in health insurance. We encourage you to stay indoors and use technology to reach out to your doctor.