Insurers perpetuating “stigma-laden policies”: APS

Following a Royal Commission in which the insurance industry’s approach to mental health came under fire, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has called on insurers to “urgently” address discrimination against those with past mental health issues.

APS chief executive, Frances Mirabelli, said that it was “disturbing” that people seeking insurance were often denied cover or had claims refused because of past help for mental health, or were hit with significant increases to the cost of policies on that basis.

While community understanding of mental health had improved, Mirabelli slammed the industry for maintaining these “stigma-laden policies”.

“Taking proactive action to get help when you are struggling actually works to prevent more serious problems in the future. This must be encouraged,” she said.

Mirabelli pointed out that evidence-based psychological help could often protect people from future mental illness, boosting resilience and providing management strategies, and also that setting up a Mental Health Plan did not mean the plan was necessarily used or that a particular mental illness was diagnosed.

The APS urged the industry to consider that experiencing isolated episodes of mental illness did not mean a consumer was high risk from an insurance perspective.




What's most disturbing is the low quality input from what's supposed to be a professional association.

No understanding that an age 65 benefit period income protection policy with a $4,000 per month benefit, when applied to a 35 year old, is somewhere around a $1.5 million risk.

Yet they don't want the insurer to be able to take any steps to manage that risk.

The suggestion that cover is being denied, or loaded, also suggests they've done no real research into the issue. Exclusions are a dime a dozen for mental health, but denied cover or loadings are rare.

This is a complex issue. The insurers haven't always gotten it 100% right but there is a marked improvement in how they evaluate past mental health treatment.

The complexity of the issue and getting to real solutions isn't helped by poorly informed contributions like these from the APS. They have the skills and resources to do so much better, and could make a huge difference.

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