Calls on ASIC to investigate mental health discrimination in life insurance

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Since 2012, the advocacy center has assisted around 180 people with advice or representation on mental health insurance disputes. The vast majority of those related to life insurance, according to the report.

In one case, a 28-year-old woman applied for additional income protection and full and permanent disability coverage through her pension fund in 2019. She answered yes to a question about whether she had received medical advice or treatment for a mental health problem, as she had seen a psychologist in 2016 and 2017, to help her with stress.

She has never been diagnosed with an illness, nor has she been discharged due to her treatment. The insurer did not ask her or her healthcare professionals for further details and offered her coverage with broad exclusions. The woman worried that access to similar treatment in the future could affect her coverage.

In another case, a woman being treated for cervical cancer had her income protection claim canceled after the insurer found out she had already received treatment for depression.

Ms Tilbury said such stories were common, even after investigations, including the Royal Commission on Financial Services and the Productivity Commission report on mental health, highlighted these issues.

“Despite several major surveys recommending reform, we continue to see people with a history of mental health being denied insurance or offered coverage subject to broad and unreasonable exclusions in the absence of clear evidence at the support for these practices, ”she said.

Labor financial services spokesman Matt Thistlethwaite said if the industry was using blanket exemptions for people who have had a mental health consultation, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission should investigate.

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“It’s dangerous because it discourages people from getting help and seeing health professionals if they have a mental health episode, which is not the right course to take clinically, and secondly , it also assumes that people cannot recover from mental health issues, which I would have thought is patently wrong, ”he said.

Mr Thistlethwaite highlighted the increase in the number of people seeking mental health support during the pandemic and the fact that the number of suicides declined last year, indicating that more people were receiving help.

“We are starting to remove some of the stigma and barriers that existed in society regarding mental health issues and more and more people are getting help, and that is something that is a good thing,” he said. he declared.

Ms Tilbury said the sharp increase in the number of people seeking treatment due to the pandemic should prompt ASIC to investigate.

“We would like ASIC to investigate mental health insurance practices (…)

Crisis support can be found on Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyond blue (1300 22 4636 and beyond blue.org.au)

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