Despite the Delhi High Court’s order last December, insurance companies have not advertised or promoted health insurance products for the disabled, mentally ill and HIV-positive.
A few insurance products, announced so far, also have high premiums. According to the 2011 census, Karnataka has more than 13 lakh people with disabilities.
According to the court order, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) issued a circular to companies in February and shared a model policy that sets minimum parameters.
The NGO, National Center for Employment Promotion of Persons with Disabilities (NCPEDP), however, found that only about seven companies advertised products on their websites, out of about 25, which they track. These companies, such as Royal Sundaram and Zuno, have largely followed the model shared by IRDAI, offering two products with annual coverage of Rs 4 lakh and
Rs 5 million.
But people with physical disabilities, who called some of these companies in April, were told by customer service managers they had no product information. “They also haven’t received a reminder from the companies. The products seem to be launched purely for the sake of compliance,” said NCPEDP’s Akshay Jain.
In addition, most companies did not specify the amount of bonuses. Of the few that do, such as Star Health and Oriental Insurance, the amounts are higher than those charged in their non-disabled products.
The difference is striking in the case of Oriental Insurance where the annual premium is Rs 41,488 for those under the age of 20 for coverage of Rs 4 lakh. That’s about 10 times the premium he charges this age group for his regular product.
A Bengaluru-based company official said premiums were kept high due to the high risk faced by this population and no policies had yet been issued by their branch.
Siddharth Singhal, business manager of health insurance at PolicyBazaar.com, said premiums would vary based on companies’ risk ratings.
Jain said IRDAI should hold consultations with insurance companies and disability rights groups on developing separate products for different disabilities.
“Insurance companies’ understanding is that living with a disability means harming life, which is incorrect. Higher premiums may be justified in some cases only, but currently the slabs are uniform for all.