Unjust to exclude mentally ill people from insurance coverage

Office workers walking across Raffles Quay.
Office workers walking across Raffles Quay. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

I am startled by the lack of discernment displayed by private insurance companies that purposely disqualify people with mental illnesses from getting the insurance coverage they deserve (Mentally ill face rejections from private insurers, May 13).

The mentally ill are in a pitiable condition that is not of their choice. They may suffer from anxiety or depression due to personality traits.

Their conditions may prevent them from going about their normal lives. But these are not incurable diseases. There are helpful treatments which may allow them to go to work and play like any regular person.

To absolutely exclude them from insurance coverage is unfairly prejudiced against them.

Being mentally ill does not mean they will be stricken with a vulnerable disease, thus shutting them out of taking up insurance. Mental illness is not contagious, and certainly will not cause them to contract serious conditions such as cancer, heart attack and stroke.

Yes, it is common for insurance companies to exclude certain pre-existing medical conditions to eliminate the possibility of large payouts. But to ban the mentally ill from getting insurance coverage outright is inequitable. Perhaps an exclusion clause relating to anything linked to mental issues is more realistic.

Mental illness is not terminal. People can recover fully through therapy, medication and support.

Insurance is not meant to benefit a person; it helps to cover a person's medical expenses in return for the premiums paid. Shunning the mentally ill is to distort and erode their welfare. They should also be treated without discrimination.

Donny Ho Boon Tiong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2019, with the headline 'Unjust to exclude mentally ill people from insurance coverage'. Print Edition | Subscribe