AIA Australia to Push For Insurers to Fund Mental Health Treatment

AIA Australia has thrown its weight behind calls to change legislation that would allow life insurers to fund early intervention and treatments for mental health conditions.

AIA Australia & NZ CEO, Damien Mu

AIA Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive, Damien Mu said the insurer would support an overhaul of legislation which prevents funding for any treatments offered by Medicare, or where a hospital or general treatment is involved.

Mu said the current legislation was creating a barrier to funding the treatment of mental health and represented a breakdown in the Australian health care system and its handling of a growing issue.

The recent report from the PJC Inquiry into Life Insurance, which included a recommendation for early intervention, should be a catalyst for the change to the legislation, Mu said.

“…the Government and industry must work together….so life insurers are allowed to pay for rehabilitation services and medical treatments…”

“This inquiry is a positive first step and the Government and industry must work together to remove this anomaly from the health system so life insurers are allowed to pay for rehabilitation services and medical treatments for people who suffer from a mental illness,” he added.

“There is currently a gap in the health system where people may be unable to receive or afford the support they need, at the time they need it most. We believe life insurers can help to fill this void through funding medical treatments,” Mu said.

The removal of legislative restrictions would provide a range of benefits, according to Mu, including providing help to those with mental health issues, helping people to return to work earlier, building a more sustainable life insurance industry and reducing the financial burden on Government.

Mu also called for a shift in how funds are provided under life insurance claims for those with mental health issues, noting that under current arrangements a claimant with a mental health condition has to establish that they are permanently unable to work before they can access recovery fund through a life insurance policy.

“Lump sum policies play a hugely important role in our society, but mental health is more complex and deserves additional thought to the best methods in providing support, especially in encouraging a return to work,” Mu said.

  • John Galt

    Early intervention is not a new concept. Believe it or not, Life Insurer’s have been doing it for a long time. They’ve also been paying for it! Again – for a long, long time! Occupational rehabilitation, workplace rehabilitation, rehab support whatever you like to call it, encompasses so much assistance that life insurers already provide to claimants. Things like wheel chairs, prosthetics, home, office and car modifications, gym and health programs, retraining, telephone support, education, psychological support etc. Already provided. Already funded. Already costing policyholders.

    I cannot think of one reason why the life insurance industry would want to take on responsibility for treatment of mental health or any other condition for that matter. Lets not forget the purpose of Life Insurance and let the professionals take care of rehabilitation and treatment and the responsible parties take care of and improve the funding for mental health treatment and any other health issues that require treatment.

    Lets instead focus on why those actually responsible for supporting treatment currently are not doing enough. Let’s focus on the Health Insurer’s who have a responsibility to fund treatment outside of medicare coverage. Lets focus on why there are gaps in health cover when free healthcare is provided by the government for all Australians. Let’s focus on why health insurance premiums escalate at incredible amounts each and every year with less services provided (but more discounts on sports shoes and sunglasses).

    Asking Life insurance policy holders to fund treatment for Life insurance that is already reaching the point of in-affordability for most average Australians is only going to mean significantly higher premiums for all policy holders and a smaller pool of insured lives paying more premiums to cover more costs.

    The life industry should worry about getting its core purpose and responsibilities in order before it starts sniffing around to bite off more than the mouthful it already struggles to swallow. Mr Mu should should lean on myOwn to lead Health Insurers in terms of better care for mental health (and any other conditions!) before looking to mix up his insurers.