Insurance Article, The Insurance Times 2022, The Insurance Times June 2022

Does the Health Insurance Policy pay for Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease found in central and West Africa. It kills as many as 1 in 10 people who contract it. Cases of Monkeypox (part of the orthopoxvirus genus) have been reported in several countries, including England, Canada, US, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Australia and Sweden. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, but less severe.

Monkeypox can cause rashes, fever, headaches, muscle and backaches and swollen lymph nodes. The monkeypox of Congo strain has a 10% fatality rate, while the West Africa strain has a 1% fatality rate. There is no specific treatment for monkeypox, but the smallpox vaccine, antivirals and other treatments can be used to control an outbreak.

The monkeypox virus spreads when a person comes in contact with an infected animal, human or material contaminated with the virus. It is believed that most human-to-human transmission spreads through large respiratory droplets from prolonged face-to-face contact. It is also possible for monkeypox to spread through contact with a lesion from a rash or bodily fluids.

Keep in mind that monkeypox symptoms start to appear one to two weeks after exposure, but the incubation period can be between 5 to 21 days. Initially a rash will appear which starts as red discoloration in the skin. It starts on the face and then progresses to the arms and legs, then hands and feet, and then the rest of the body. After one to two days these rashesbecomes raised on the skin and they look like blisters.

The current outbreak has not yet been linked to any areas where the virus is usually found. This is the first time monkeypox cases across many countries at the same time in people who have not traveled to Africa.

Observing the patterns of transmission so far, it can be said that the current outbreak is not typical. The cases have primarily, but not exclusively, been identified in men who have sex with men. However monkeypox is not a gay disease…anybody can contract monkeypox through close contact.

As of May 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 98 confirmed cases and 22 probable cases. The U.S. has one confirmed one case in Boston. Cases of monkeypox have not been reported in India yet. It must be kept in mind that India has a large number of international flyers from Africa and Europe daily. The health officials who screen travellers at the airports are not trained to identify monkeypox rash through physical checks.

We are still in the early days of this outbreak, so there is a lot to learn about monkeypox. The way coronavirus was not covered under health insurance policy till the Regulator’s amendment of the health insurance policy wording, paving way for policies like the ‘Corona kavach’, Insurancepe believes that Monkeypox is not covered by the existing health insurance policies.

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