12 May 2011
New Delhi, India
The Delhi high court has questioned the Centre as to why HIV+ and AIDS patients were not covered under any health insurance policy. A division bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and justice Sanjiv Khanna asked the government to explain the discriminatory attitude.
According to a petition filed by Dr Rajeev Sharma, who has been working with HIV-affected patients for some time, "The insurance sector is one area where HIV+ patients are discriminated against in many existing policies, which include a clause specifically excluding insurance benefits of HIV/AIDS and related treatment. Thus, when an existing policy holder is subsequently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS during the policy period they are denied the benefits of their existing insurance policy."
Out of 24 insurance firms registered with the Indian Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA), only one insurance company – Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Limited – gives insurance facility to HIV–affected patients, the petition said.
The court has issued a notice to IRDA, NACO and the health ministry asking them to file their replies by July 27.
There are currently about 2.39 million people in India living with HIV/AIDS. According to latest figures, India is number 3 in the world and accounts for roughly half of Asia’s HIV/AIDS affected population.
"This practice violates the fundamental right of an individual under article 14 of the Constitution which ensures the Right to Equality and imposes a duty on the state to improve public health," the petition stated.
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