The menace of HIV, which is largely a global epidemic has also spread its tentacles in India, with the country registering approximately 5.7 million HIV positive people. Though the insurance sector has been very inflexible in dealing with HIV positive cases, now with more and more awareness of the fact that HIV positive people too can lead healthy lives, there are some insurance companies who are opening their doors to such clients. Earlier such clients were considered extremely high risk, so much so that health policies also mentioned HIV in its exclusions and it also found a mention in the list of pre-existing diseases.
In fact, on 1 April 2014, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority's (IRDA) passed a directive asking insurers to provide life insurance cover to people living with HIV/AIDS. At the time, however, the insurance companies had pointed out that lack of proper data about the ailment would be a challenge in ascertaining the premiums of the policy. Thereafter, draft guidelines were issued where the regulator said that the board-approved underwriting policy should be kept in place by all insurance companies. It said that such patients cannot be denied a life insurance cover, if they satisfy the eligibility criteria mentioned in the board-approved underwriting policy.
• Some policies offer premiums as low as Rs 2,500 to as high as Rs 4,000 and unlike other policies no age limit is set for this type of policy.
• It helps the HIV positive patient live a life of dignity and gives peace of mind.
• The good news is that the insurance company is open to issuing this policy to anyone who has already contracted HIV.
• Facilities like cost of pre medical tests are borne by the insurer.
• Some policies understand the need to maintain confidentiality and protect their client's identity. In this context, they provide complete confidentiality to the policy holder.
• The biggest boon for this type of policy is that if HIV progressed into AIDS, then it gives financial support to the insured.
Besides the foray of the insurance sector in this area, there is also an emergence of group health insurance cover for HIV positive people. Typically, these schemes or policies have the following features:
• Like other existing insurance policies in the health sector, these policies also provide coverage for upto a period of one year.
• Depending on the type of group cover, the sum insured ranges from Rs 30,000, Rs 40,000 and Rs 60,000.
• Some group policies disburse the sum insured in two parts: the first half covers hospitalization while the other is disbursed if the patient reaches the stage of AIDS.
The sudden discovery that one is HIV positive is in itself a traumatic time for not just the patient, but also his / her loved ones. Adding to this mental anguish is the stigma and misconception attached to this disease. However, contracting HIV does not mean the end of the road for anyone. Rather if an HIV positive person insures themselves, then they can lead a life of self-reliance, dignity and live on their own terms.