Mental health discrimination on the agenda for insurance firms

beyondblue and Mental Health Australia have welcomed the release of The Actuaries Institute of Australia’s ‘Mental Health and Insurance Green Paper’.

The two organisations have been working together with the insurance industry since 2002 to address changes to policies and practices for people with mental health conditions who have been denied cover, charged higher premiums or have had their claims rejected.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said: “The Green Paper will help to prompt change and add to beyondblue’s work in advocating for insurance products and practices to reflect 21st century community expectations around depression, anxiety and suicide risk.”

Earlier this year, beyondblue conducted research to measure the extent and nature of insurance discrimination against people with mental health conditions and gathered first person accounts and according to beyondblue the results of the research will be released later this year.

“The Actuarial Institute’s Green Paper is a timely piece of work,” said Harman. “We have already seen some change in the industry with a handful of insurers removing blanket mental health exclusion clauses from travel insurance policies. But overall the pace is glacial.”

“beyondblue wants insurers to assess the risk of cover and mental health-related claims using recent, relevant, real data and not outmoded attitudes and practices. There is a lot of data out there, but we do not believe the industry is using it properly,” said Harman.

“We are asking the industry to use contemporary evidence and data, and take individual circumstances into account instead of making broad assumptions about a person’s mental health and ability to function.”

“We want insurers to stop indirectly discouraging people from seeking help to improve their mental health and well-being out of fear they will be denied insurance because they have – or once had – depression, anxiety or were touched by suicide,” said Harman.

“We also call on insurers to stop confusing symptoms, such as stress or insomnia, with diagnosable conditions such as anxiety and depression.”


Image sourced from Flickr cc: micadew

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