Volume 3 Issue 10 - May 15, 2005

N.I.A. to offer health insurance to persons with mental, physical disabilities

DNIS News Network - In a significant development that may well prove to be a harbinger of changes in Indias insurance sector for persons with disabilities, the N.I.A. has agreed to provide persons with disabilities health insurance cover at a standard premium as it does for other sections of society.

This initiative by the New India Assurance (N.I.A.) Company marks a victory for disability sector stakeholders, who have been campaigning to end the blatant discrimination against persons with disability. They have been demanding equal treatment in premium rates and terms for insurance policies.

The issue was taken up in earnest at the Law For All Initiative meet held in Hyderabad. At this meet, it was decided to initiate a national survey for collecting data for lobbying with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (I.R.D.A.) to enforce insurance for persons with disability.

A common argument used by insurance companies against a common premium rate is that disabled persons have greater liabilities. To counter this notion, Bhopal-based Organisation for Awareness of Integrated Social Security conducted an empirical study to show that, at least in sample study areas, respondents with various disabilities were not exceptionally prone to accidents or hospitalisation in comparison to the so-called normal people. Pradeep Ghosh, an Ashoka Fellow, stated, We confronted empathetic but reluctant officials from the company with the findings of the study and quizzed them about the laws that said the premiums should be higher in cases of policy for persons with disabilities.

Buoyant over the breakthrough, Ghosh added, The next step would be to get as many persons with disability insured by health and accidental insurances as possible this year. This way we will also be able to collect actual hospitalisation and accidental claims data that can then be used to press upon the I.R.D.A. to allocate a fixed percentage of insurance business for disability sector, on the lines of rural insurances. The development will definitely pave the way for proactive initiatives, including Public Interest Litigations, to force the I.R.D.A. and the government to take action in this regard, he added.

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