Mental illness still not covered by health insurance

Calls seem to be intensifying to have Jordanian private health insurance plans include psychiatric help. (Photo: Pixabay)
AMMAN — In view of the difficult circumstances experienced by many since the onset of COVID-19, which in many cases has only compounded an already untenable situation, reportedly more and more seem to need to resort to therapists. Jordanians are no exception, but prices are prohibiting in most cases, so calls seem to have intensified to have psychiatric help included in private health insurance schemes.اضافة اعلان

According to psychiatrist Waleed Shunaiqat, mental illness increases with the increase in economic hardships, yet, mental illnesses are not considered a priority and are still considered as trivial by some.

Shuniqat told Jordan News that health insurance companies lack sufficient knowledge of the importance of mental health, and therefore, do not include psychiatry in health insurance plans.

He said that it is still a commonly held belief that mental illness is caused by lack of faith in God or self-loathing, but “we must know that it is a real illness that results from chemical reactions in our brains”.

He also said that “unfortunately, some people do not know that mental illness can cause major health problems if not treated”.

The psychiatrist said that health insurance companies should take “serious and real steps” toward having psychiatry covered by health insurance, especially when “demand on psychiatry is increasing”.

“However, some people cannot afford to pay for their treatment and medicine,” said Shuniqat, a statement put into perspective by reports that a therapy session may reach JD50 in some clinics.  

Reem, a pseudonym, told Jordan News that besides facing “intractable” mental illnesses, she also struggles to get JD25–JD50 for her therapy sessions, which “makes my life harder and contributes to worsening my mental health”.

Psychiatry should be covered by private health insurance companies; the high cost of therapy sessions “remains a struggle” for most patients, she said.
“At some point, I felt that I could not manage to pay JD25 every week for my therapy session, and that is why I decided to quit for almost two years. I can say that my mental health got worse during that time,” she added.

Over the past year she tried to find the cheapest treatment, she said, because, “besides the cost of the sessions, I have to pay for the medicines and medical analyses, and this is too expensive for me”, which meant she had to visit several psychiatrists.

Secretary-General of Jordan Health Insurance Association Fawwaz Ajloni told Jordan News that illnesses like cancer, dialysis, and mental illness are “taken on by the state”.

He added that there have been many appeals, over the years, to have mental illnesses covered by private health insurance companies, but only some accepted.

According to Director of the Health Insurance Department at the Ministry of Health Nael Adwan, citizens may be treated for different types of mental illnesses for free at public hospitals.

Read more National news