Ayurveda denied cover

Deccan Chronicle reports from Hyderabad: With only two companies coming forward to offer insurance for Ayurveda treatment, Ayurveda doctors say that there is a strong need for re-organisation in the form of standardisation of treatments and regulation.

The need is strongly felt since despite the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority identifying Ayurveda medicine for insurance in May 2013, there are very few companies offering insurance.

President of the Andhra Pradesh Ayurvedic Medical Officers Association, Dr Mallu Prasad said, “The moot problem that we are facing is that most Ayurveda clinics are not recognised by the government.

The reason is that Ayurveda doctors do not have huge setups and they often practice out of small clinics. But the government compares them with allopathic hospitals and that is not the right me-thod. With only a few recognised hospitals or clinics, the number for insurance companies offering coverage is very low.”

At the same time, the industry also has a lot of quacks in the form of unregistered practitioners, massage parlours and herbal clinics. Dr Prasad explained, “Our main problem is that we have not been able to act against these people in our industry due to lack of stringent provisions in the Act. Now when the government has opened up, these anomalies are not allowing us to go forward and make the best out of it.”

However, other doctors in the industry claim that there is very little awareness amongst their peers who are not making the most out of the opportunity. Dr M.A. Virinchi explained, “We have three kinds of packages — rejuvenation, cosmetic and remedy. Often people walk in as they are stressed and want to relax and rejuvenate via yoga and therapy. Others walk in with severe arthritis, paralysis and recurring problems of piles. These categories give us the chance to classify. If the industry portrays the right picture to insurance companies they will show interest.”

Currently, an insurance of Rs 50,000 per annum is being offered for ayurvedic treatments in government clinics. But this beginning can be further strengthened if there is proper backing from the ayurveda doctors, claim insiders.

A senior doctor said, “There is too much of a personalised treatment mantra which is not correct. The traditional homes are not ready to divulge their methods. Present times demand acceptance and that can be done only after the methods are scrutinised. This shying away is proving costly.”

At the same time, the department of Ayush is trying to get new doctors to work towards setting up clinics which will be easy for the government to recognise. A senior officer in the Ayush department said, “To boost confidence of the insurance companies, both the government and Ayurveda doctors have to work together.

We are working towards getting the Central Government Employees’ Reimbursement Scheme include Ayurveda. Currently, two clinics are identified. A standard module is being set for it and if it is successful it will pave the way for others. It will also create the much-needed environment for recognition for which the inclination is very low presently.”

Dr M.L. Naidu, a retired principal of Dr NRS Government Ayurvedic College and a member of the Central Council of Indian Medicine, said several bankers and insurance sector players, including SBI and LIC, are now offering insurance cover for Ayurvedic treatment to their staff and government employees.

He said many insurance companies are not coming forward to provide insurance coverage to several Ayurvedic treatments due to the negative publicity being carried out by international magazines. He said the ministry of health has also made it clear that there should be no barrier for Ayurvedic treatment. The professor said that over 78 Ayurvedic teams from Kerala rendered treatment to players during the Olympic games.( Deccan Chronicle/ 19 january14)

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