Insurance cover for HIV/AIDS patients in Karnataka

August 14th, 2008 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Aug 14 (IANS) India’s fight against the AIDS epidemic has been taken a step further with a group health insurance plan for HIV-affected people in Karnataka. Population Services International (PSI), an NGO, in collaboration with Star Health and Allied Insurance Company and the Karnataka Network for Positive People (KNP+), has launched the scheme which, it said, is a first-of-its-kind initiative in India.

“The state is fast coming under the grip of HIV/AIDS. Financial assistance to help the victims is the need of the hour. The entire scheme has been fashioned to serve the financial needs of the patients to avail medical benefits,” Sanjay Rao Chaganti, programme director of PSI told IANS.

The pilot project, launched here Wednesday, intends to cover the cost of treatment of AIDS patients. Initially, 250 people living with HIV in six districts of Bellary, Dakshina Kannada, Mandya, Kolar, Mysore and Udupi will get insurance cover of Rs.30,000 each.

“The insurance cover entails the beneficiary Rs.15,000 assistance for hospitalisation and an equal amount for his family in the event of his or her death,” he added.

The project is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under Project Connect, aimed at public-private partnership to arrest the growth of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the country.

According to an estimate of the Karnataka State Aids Prevention Society (KSAPS), the state has 250,000 HIV infected people and 33,000 suffering from AIDS. But only 22,000 are registered under KNP+.

“The greatest hurdle in combating the dreaded disease is lack of awareness and the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS,” said Manjunath Prasad, project director of KSAPS.

“It is a problem to enrol HIV positive people, because they want to disclose their HIV status. It can be done only through the help of organisations like KNP+,” said Chaganti.

The annual premium for the policy stands at Rs.1,500 per person. The NGO will provide half the amount. There is no age limit for applicant to avail HIV/AIDS group insurance policy. Applicants will get cashless facility at empanelled hospitals, about 300 in the state.

An estimated 2.5 million people in India, aged between 15 and 49, are feared to be living with HIV/AIDS, the third largest in the world. The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the country is 0.36 percent.

Experts believe that most HIV infections in India occur through heterosexual transmission. However, in northeast India, large-scale injection of drug is the major cause for the spread of the epidemic.

In the past few years, HIV/AIDS has moved from urban to rural India and from high risk to general population, mostly affecting youths, states a National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) report.

The neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh will soon follow Karnataka in its battle against HIV/AIDS. Andhra Pradesh Aids Control Society has identified 3,000 HIV affected people and they would soon be brought under similar insurance programmes, Sanjay said.

“The battle against the disease will succeed only through massive awareness programme in both rural and urban areas. People are yet to become aware about the disease to control the menace,” NACO director general K. Sujatha Rao said.

Out of the Rs.11 billion provided during 2008-09 for AIDS control, about Rs.1.5 billion was spent on creation of awareness about the disease.

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