First case of monkeypox reported in India: How insurance can help patients and travellers

First case of monkeypox in India has been reported from the Kollam district in Kerala. The patient, a 35-year-old man had recently returned from abroad and was admitted to the hospital after showing signs of monkeypox. The Government of India on Thursday rushed a high-level multi-disciplinary team to Kerala to collaborate with the State Health Authorities in instituting public health measures in view of the confirmed case of monkeypox.

Insurance experts say that treatment expenses for infectious diseases like monkeypox are covered under the basic health insurance policy. 

“In the wake of the first monkeypox case reported in India, it is important to remember that all infectious diseases, including monkeypox, are covered under the basic health insurance policy. If a person is diagnosed and thereby hospitalised, then it will be covered under an individual health insurance policy,” Rakesh Jain, CEO of Reliance General Insurance said. 

In view of the monkeypox threat, it has become necessary for travellers going abroad to have travel insurance providing cover for medical emergencies. 

“Anyone who is travelling outside India should check their overseas Mediclaim policy clearly, whether virus borne disease is covered or not. If it is covered, whether the disease can be treated outside India or not. If anyone contracts monkey pox outside India, then one has to take treatment in India, subject to policy terms and conditions,” Indraneel Chatterjee, Co-founder of RenewBuy said. 

“It is always recommended that one should buy comprehensive health before travelling outside India, on the safer side for better coverage,” he added. 

Steps to take after catching Monkeypox

In case a person catches monkeypox while travelling, he/she should first seek immediate medical support. “When one has a health/travel insurance policy and is advised hospitalization for monkeypox, he or she will be able to avail the claim post hospitalization. The kind of claim that one has, depends on the kind of hospital he/ she seeks treatment in,” said Chatterjee. 

wo types of claims are admissible in a health insurance plan – Cashless and reimbursement claims.

Cashless claims work when the hospital would process them on behalf of the policyholder, so the consumer’s involvement is minimal.

For a reimbursement claim, one needs to process the entire claim by oneself. When making a medical reimbursement claim, the medical bills are cleared by the policyholder and claimed later by the health insurance company. An advantage of a reimbursement claim is that the treatment can be taken in a hospital of the policyholder’s choice.

Some travel policies only cover accidental death and accidental hospitalisation. Medical hospitalization is not included in those policies.

“Customers should opt for the Medical Expense feature in their travel policies to ensure that all emergency medical costs such as hospitalisation, outpatient and cashless hospitalisation will be covered during an international trip. Treatments taken for monkeypox during a foreign trip are covered in travel insurance under the Medical Expense feature to the extent of sum insured limits or sub-limits. Co-habitation, nonetheless, is usually not included in the policy cover. It is, therefore, advisable to go through the policy features and exclusions in detail and choose the right add-ons to ensure adequate coverage,” said Jain. 

What is monkeypox? 

Monkeypox is a viral disease transmitted to humans from animals. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), monkeypox symptoms are similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients. Monkeypox is, however, said to be clinically less severe. 

Monkeypox virus can be transmitted from one person to another by close contact with an infected person or animal through lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as beddings.