New Delhi: There shall be no discrimination in providing health and life insurances to HIV positive people and it should "preferably" at regular rate of premium, a standing committee of Rajya Sabha has said in a report on a bill to stop discrimination against those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
The Rajya Sabha's standing committee on the health ministry, in a report examining The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, has also asked central government to form guidelines for the appointment of ombudsman, who play a crucial role as per the bill.
According health ministry data, India is estimated to have 2.39 million people living with HIV/AIDS, the third highest number after South Africa and Nigeria.
The bill seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard their rights, and creates mechanisms for redressing their complaints.
The panel, in its report said there shall be no discrimination with HIV positive people while providing insurance cover.
"The committee is of the opinion that all HIV positive people should be provided insurance cover without any discrimination preferably at normal rate of premium or they may be charged slightly higher rate of premium but in no case exorbitant rate of premium should be charged from HIV positive people for providing insurance cover for both life and health insurance," said a report of a select committee of Rajya Sabha, tabled in the house recently.
The committee recommended the health ministry to pursue the matter with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) for providing insurance cover to all the HIV positive people without any discrimination.
The health ministry had submitted to the committee that the IRDA was not in favour of providing insurance cover to such persons at normal rate of premium.
On the appointment of ombudsman, the committee has asked center to form "model guidelines" for appointment.
"There is an imperative need to develop a set of model guidelines... to ensure that the persons of impeccable integrity are appointed as ombudsman and parity is maintained in respect of all matters relating to the office of ombudsman, amongst the states," said the panel.
"The committee, accordingly, recommends that the ministry should formulate a set of model guidelines giving strong procedures and systems in the matter for guidance of the states in the form of executive instructions as has been done in several previous legislations," it said.
The panel added that "significant and substantive" matters covered in the model guidelines may be included in the bill itself.
The panel added that government should pass the bill without any further delay.
The HIV/AIDS bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services, residing or renting property, standing for public or private office, and provision of insurance.
The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.
It also says an ombudsman shall be appointed by each state government to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and the provision of health care services.
The ombudsman shall submit a report to the state government every six months stating the number and nature of complaints received, the actions taken and orders passed.