On the occasion of World Arthritis Day, which is being observed on 12 October IRA in a petition to the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority (IRDA) and Union ministry of health and family welfare, has requested to include it in the list of diseases covered by all public and private insurers.
The Indian Rheumatology Association (IRA) has required the support of the Centre to get insurance coverage for inflammatory arthritis patients. At present, health insurance companies do not cover arthritis.
Though not life-threatening, inflammatory arthritis, is a highly debilitating condition which takes the life out of the patient’s daily activity, the petition pointed out.
“Classify them as critical illness or insurable illness. Currently, it is categorized as general arthritis and rheumatism, which is medically and scientifically incorrect,“ the petition stated.
The IRA has also appealed to the government to make the drug prices affordable for treating these arthritic conditions. Drawing the attention of the government on how the disease control and remission is possible for many patients with early and aggressive treatment using disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), the petition pointed out that the drugs were often costly, with the treatment costs running into a few lakh rupees per year. “This disorder is silently becoming a huge healthcare burden in urban India and people suffering from this disease need the same support as that of any other disorder like diabetes or cancer,“ said Vinod Ravindran editor-in-chief of the Indian Journal of Rheumatology.“The aim of this World Arthritis Day is to influence public policy by making decision-makers aware of the burden of RMDs and the steps which can be taken to ease it. Not only is the patient, but the whole family is affected due to burden of medical care,“ he said. Nearly 1% of the population suffers from the problem. “In India, diseases like inflammatory arthritis is not considered as a `critical illness’,“ said Dr Padmanabha Shenoy, rheumatologist and immunologist at Center for Arthritis and Rheumatism Excellence in Kochi.
“Rheumatoid disease is more common in women and predominantly in the perimenopausal age group.It, however, can occur even in young adults and in men of all age groups and in these individuals the disease can be more severe and more aggressive,“ added Dr George Kallarackal, consultant rheumatologist, Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi.