Increase MediShield Life coverage for psychiatric treatment

Many people with mental illness are not willing to come forward for treatment because of the stigma associated with such conditions ("Mental illnesses 'not all in the mind'"; Oct 8).

However, those who wish to seek treatment may find the cost of treatment unaffordable. Also, the loss of a job due to the illness further exacerbates their financial burden.

It is unfortunate that the coverage by MediShield Life for psychiatric treatment remains minuscule.

Its inpatient psychiatric treatment benefit remains unchanged at $100 per day.

On the other hand, daily ward coverage for normal wards, intensive care unit wards and community hospitals have increased by 56 per cent, 33 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.

When medical inflation is taken into consideration, the inpatient psychiatric treatment benefit has actually decreased.

Coverage for mental illness is also capped for those who are insured with Integrated Shield Plans (IPs).

The insurers offering IPs either offer significantly lower coverage, compared with other physical illnesses, or cap the number of hospitalisation days for psychiatric treatments.

Perhaps the Government can take the lead by increasing the MediShield Life coverage for psychiatric treatment to be on a par with other ward charges.

Insurance companies should also not differentiate between mental and physical illnesses.

Wilfred Ling