The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Union Government and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on a public interest litigation seeking directions to insurance companies to provide medical insurance cover to HIV/AIDS patients as well.
The petitioner, Rajeev Sharma of Vasant Kunj, submitted that the exclusion of HIV/AIDS patients from the medical insurance benefits was discriminatory, unreasonable, unsubstantiated by any hard facts and displayed no nexus between the classification of people living under HIV/AIDS for the purpose of insurance policies and the purpose for which insurance policies were created.
He further submitted that the practice to deny the benefits of medical insurance to HIV/AIDS patients was also discriminatory and violative of the spirit of the Constitution and the international standards for treatment of these patients.
Dr. Sharma stated that except one, 15 of the 24 insurance companies listed under the IRDA Act explicitly excluded benefits of HIV/AIDS and related treatment in their policies.
The petitioner submitted that by failing to take steps to prevent these patients from being excluded from insurance policies without strong justification, the IRDA had failed not only to uphold Articles 14, 21 and 47 of the Constitution but also to perform the statutory duties assigned to it under Section 14 of the IRDA Act.
There are currently about 2.39 million people in India living with HIV/AIDS. Although the prevalence seems low at 0.31 per cent, the huge population makes India home to the third largest number of HIV/AIDS patients, the petitioner stated.