Improving Access to Insurance for People Living With Mental Illness
Agreement has been reached between the insurance industry and mental health sector to work together to reduce barriers for people with a mental illness from accessing different types of insurance.
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The Hon Mark Butler MP5 September 2011
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation
Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Bill Shorten and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler today welcomed agreement between the insurance industry and mental health sector to work together to reduce barriers for people with a mental illness from accessing different types of insurance.
The Insurance Reform Advisory Group (IRAG) met for the first time today to identify a number of key areas in which government, industry, the mental health sector and other stakeholders could work together to improve insurance options for people with experience of mental illness.
Key priorities agreed to at today’s meeting include:
- Improving and increasing education and awareness about mental health and insurance processes for: consumers and carers; insurance, superannuation and financial planning sector staff; mental health professionals; and the general community
- Standardising mental health conditions and how they are categorised for the insurance industry
- Development and adoption of voluntary guidelines
- Development of a more effective complaints process.
“The IRAG has been established to build on the good work arising out of the natural disasters in late 2010 and early 2011. We've achieved a lot already with the insurance industry and consumer groups, and are close to implementing a standard definition of flood and one page key facts statement,” Mr Shorten said.
“We want to build on that work and achieve similar progress in other areas of insurance, such as the barriers faced by people with mental health issues. Today's meeting was a good start and I want to recognise and thank consumer representatives and the insurance industry CEOs for attending.
“I look forward to the working group reporting back by early next year with reform proposals.
“We certainly don’t intend for IRAG to become an endless debating shop or write up some unworkable wish list, but it can be a useful and constructive way to bring industry and consumers together to help Government drive meaningful reform.”
“Discrimination and stigma remain ongoing issues for people with mental illness. Stigma and discrimination can be a barrier to people applying for insurance in the first instance, or impede people from fully disclosing their illness - leading to inadequate cover,” Mr Butler said.
“Today’s agreement represents an important step in making insurance products more accessible for people with mental illness.”
Consumer representative Victor Lewis-Hansom also attended today’s meeting.
“It’s important that people with experience of a mental illness have access to the same services as all Australians,” Mr Lewis-Hansom said.
“I was really impressed by the level of goodwill shown at today’s meeting to work together towards improving insurance options for people with experience of mental illness.”
For more information please contact Mr Butler’s office (02) 6277 7280
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