In a relief to insured persons, regulator IRDAI on Thursday directed health and general insurers to include telemedicine as part of claim settlement of policy.
In view of the lockdown to curb spread of coronavirus, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has issued 'Telemedicine practice guidelines' on March 25, enabling registered medical practitioners to provide healthcare using telemedicine.
"Provision of allowing telemedicine shall be part of claim settlement of policy of the insurers and need not be filed separately with the authority for any modification. However, the norms of sub-limits, monthly/annual limits, etc., of the product shall apply without any relaxation," the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) said in a circular to all health and general insurers.
The insurers, the regulator said, should allow telemedicine wherever consultation with a medical practitioner is allowed in the terms and conditions of policy contract.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, a board vested with the powers of the MCI, had advised medical practitioners to use telemedicine while providing healthcare saying it can prevent transmission of infectious diseases and reduce the risks to both healthcare workers and patients.
The board of governors (BoG) issued guidelines, outlining that telemedicine provides safety of patients, as well as health workers safety especially in situations where there is risk of contagious infections and it can be conducted without exposing staff to viruses or infections in the times of such outbreaks.
There are a number of technologies that can be used in telemedicine, which can help patients adhere better to their medication regimens and manage their diseases better, the BoG said in its telemedicine guidelines.
The Telemedicine Practice Guidelines stated that in India, providing in-person healthcare is challenging, particularly given the large geographical distances and limited resources.
One of the major advantages of telemedicine can be for saving of cost and effort especially of rural patients, as they need not travel long distances for obtaining consultation and treatment, the BoG had said.