19 April 2010
By Harsh Roongta
India has a population of more than a billion. According to the 2007 statistics of the National AIDS control organisation, of this billion population, nearly 2.3 million people are living with HIV or AIDS.
A silent and brutal virus infection like this one cuts social net for the patients and can have a major impact on the financial lives. As per our research every single non–group mediclaim policy issued in this country permanently excludes hospitalisation expenses incurred due to any sexually–transmitted diseases including AIDS (although AIDS can be caused by myriad factors other than unprotected sex). It does not matter if you have a health insurance policy for years and didn’t claim a penny for maybe a decade. If you get infected with the HIV virus in the 11th year, you will still not be covered for any hospitalisation expenses incurred due to this.
Of course, to be fair to the insurance companies there are valid reasons for the exclusions of HIV/AIDS. HIV/Aids as a disease is relatively new at around 25 – 30 years and there is still no certified cure for the same. The expenses required for treatment and eventual outcome is uncertain. The insurance industry depends on statistics about how many people get affected by the disease as well as the average cost for treating such a disease and eventual outcomes to price its product appropriately and since no reliable data is available on this it is excluded from the scope of coverage to avoid making the cost prohibitive. In fact, one of the insurance companies we spoke with while doing research on this subject gave an interesting example of diabetes and its coverage in health insurance plans in western countries.
If we consider this example then clearly we should be ready to at least move to the second stage where at least expensive insurance is available. As per a newspaper report, the labour ministry is reportedly gathering data on this before approaching the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) to request them for some regulations in this regard. Since HIV/Aids is such a big issue the government would do well to create some kind of a common re–insurance pool just like it has done for terrorism cover without which the cost of covering this risk is likely to be prohibitive. Hopefully, some portion of the government funds being spent on fighting this scourge will see its way…
Friday, Feb 24th
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