August 14, 2008

First health insurance policy for HIV+ persons launched

In a first of its kind initiative that will bring respite to lakhs of people infected with HIV, an insurance company today rolled out a health policy, which will cover illness of such a patient due to his/her weak immune system.

Star Health and Allied Insurance Company, which launched its group medical insurance policy meant exclusively for HIV+ people, said the policy would cover hospitalisation expenses incurred on opportunistic illness acquired by an HIV+ person.

"The policy is unique not only in India but also in the world. It will cover hospitalisation expenses as a result of opportunistic diseases acquired by the HIV+ person," Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Vice-President, Government and New Initiatives, Uday Chandran told PTI.

He, however, said that the policy would not cover any treatment cost for HIV and would also not cover conditions, which existed before enrolling into the policy.

"The policy does not cover any treatment for HIV, like Anti Retro-viral Therapy (ART), but would only cover illness acquired by such person because their immune system becomes weak," he said.

Chandran was, however, quick to add that TB and gastroenteritis, the most common diseases affecting the HIV+ people would not be covered under the policy.

"We wanted the policy to remain as cost effective as possible for those persons. Had these two also been included, the premium would have gone up," Chandran said.

On asked if the policy would take care of expenses once a HIV+ person is declared full blown AIDS patient, he said that in such cases, lump-sum amount is paid to the policy holder as per the sum insured by him or her.

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