Health Insurance for Autoimmune Diseases in India

Every human body comes with an immune system to fight against foreign bacteria, viruses and infections. But sometimes, it can also be responsible for giving rise to certain diseases like autoimmune diseases. Let’s find everything about autoimmune diseases and whether it is covered by health insurance plans in India.

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    What are Autoimmune Diseases?

    Autoimmune diseases refer to diseases or medical conditions in which the immune system of the body attacks its own cells by mistake. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system mistakes certain parts of the body, such as skin, joints, etc., as foreign cells. As a result, it releases autoantibodies protein to attack these healthy cells.

    Autoimmune diseases are more common in women than men. As per the data by the National Health Portal of India, about 75% of the people suffering from autoimmune diseases are women. Moreover, young adults and middle-aged people are more prone to autoimmune diseases. People with a family history of autoimmune diseases are also at risk. Besides, people with exposure to bacterial and viral infections in the past or drugs and metals like silver, mercury or gold can also develop autoimmune diseases.

    Which Diseases Come under Autoimmune Diseases?

    Some of the most common autoimmune diseases diagnosed among people in India are:

    • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
    • Type 1 Diabetes
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Addison’s Disease
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Psoriatic/Psoriasis Arthritis
    • Graves’ Disease
    • Celiac Disease
    • Sjogren’s Syndrome
    • Pernicious Anemia
    • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
    • Autoimmune Vasculitis
    • Myasthenia Gravis
    • Sarcoidosis
    • Scleroderma
    • Crohn’s Disease

    While some autoimmune diseases attack only one body organ, others may attack the entire body. For instance, Type 1 diabetes damages only the pancreas while SLE affects the entire body’s functioning.

    Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases

    Given the wide range of autoimmune diseases, the early symptoms of most of them are the same, such as fatigue, muscle pain, hair loss, skin rashes, tingling or numbness in the hands & feet, etc. Besides, a single test cannot diagnose most autoimmune diseases. Thus, a combination of tests and review of the symptoms over a long time can help the doctor to diagnose an autoimmune disease.

    But sadly, most autoimmune diseases cannot be cured. The treatment suggested by the doctor can only regulate the overactive response of the immune system and provide relief from the symptoms. Medicines can be taken to control the swelling, pain and rashes but cannot treat the disease altogether.

    Does Health Insurance in India Cover Autoimmune Diseases?

    Yes. Several autoimmune diseases are covered under health insurance plans in India. The coverage amount can range from Rs 1 lakh to more than Rs 1 crore, depending on the plan. While a few autoimmune diseases are covered under customized plans, others may be covered under a critical illness insurance policy. For example, several insurers offer diabetes-specific plans to cover Type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Addison’s disease are covered under critical illness plans offered by various insurers.

    A health insurance policy for autoimmune diseases provides coverage for hospitalization expenses, outpatient treatment expenses, day care procedures, diagnostic test charges, road ambulance charges, etc. Critical illness plans provide a lump sum benefit on the first diagnosis of the disease. However, the coverage may differ from one health insurer to another. Hence, it is recommended to check the types of autoimmune diseases and coverage benefits before buying the health insurance policy. Remember to compare health insurance plans covering autoimmune diseases before buying any one plan.

    Waiting Period for Autoimmune Diseases under Health Insurance

    Health insurance plans covering autoimmune diseases may come with a waiting period. Regular health insurance plans providing coverage for autoimmune diseases come with an initial waiting period of 30 days. This means that the insured may have to wait for at least 30 days to raise a claim for autoimmune disease. On the other hand, if the person buys a critical disease policy, it will come with a waiting period of 90 days along with a survival period of 30 days.

    In case the insured already suffers from an autoimmune disease at the time of buying the policy, the disease will be considered as pre-existing. Most health insurance plans in India cover pre-existing diseases after a waiting period of 2 to 4 years. The policyholder can check the terms and conditions of the policy to know about the applicable waiting period.

    How to Delay or Reverse an Autoimmune Disease?

    Although autoimmune diseases are not curable, they can be delayed or reversed to some extent. To begin with, people must exercise regularly to stay fit. But eating a healthy diet with inclusions of certain foods is considered more effective against these diseases. Here are some of the diet tips that can help to reverse or delay the onset of autoimmune diseases:

    • Include vitamin A in the diet as it is known as an effective immune regulator and prevent intestinal inflammation
    • Consume omega-3 fatty acids while keeping the calorie intake in check to reduce the risk of such diseases
    • Eat probiotic and prebiotic food supplements and give them to young infants as well
    • Breastfeeding and a healthy maternal diet is also known to prevent few autoimmune diseases like celiac diseases
    • Include vitamin D, flavanols, zinc, glutamine and selenium in the diet to keep autoimmune diseases at bay

    Summing It Up

    Autoimmune diseases have become quite common in India. Since the diseases cannot be cured, regular treatment is required to keep the immune system and the symptoms in check leading to huge medical expenses. Health insurance plans covering autoimmune diseases can reduce the financial burden on the policyholder and help him/her to avail the necessary treatment at the right time.

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