Population Services International (PSI), a non-governmental organization, in partnership with Star Health and Allied Insurance Company and the Karnataka Network for Positive People (KNP+) introduced India's first ever health insurance plan that support more than 250 people living with HIV (PLHIV).
The partnership, which brings together a private health insurance company, a state level network of people living with HIV/AIDS, an Indian NGO and USAID, is a model example of how a public-private partnership can address the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS; a model that will hopefully serve to encourage other public/private insurance providers to enter the field of community-based health insurance, a relatively new concept in India.
Commenting on the initiative, Ms. K Sujatha Rao, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Director General National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) said, "I would like to congratulate USAID and Star Alliance for bringing out this product addressing an important need of PLHIV. This will help them access timely care and live better lives. This is a first step to breaking down financial barriers of PLHIV's in accessing treatment."
Speaking on this innovative partnership, USAID/India Mission Director George Deikun said, "Our support to Project Connect has spurred the private sector to address the critical insurance needs of people living with HIV. This aligns well with the Government of India-led National AIDS Control Plan-3 to increase private sector engagement in HIV/AIDS services. We also hope that this effort will send a positive signal to the private sector in India to join hands with NACO to strengthen the national response under the strong leadership of DG, NACO, Ms. K Sujatha Rao."
Mr. Sanjay Chaganti, Program Director, PSI said, "With the objective of engaging the insurance sector in India in the fight against HIV, we assisted Star Health to fine tune the product to suit the specific needs of PLHIV. Further, working in close partnership with the KNP+, PLHIV across the state were educated and mobilized to enroll in this insurance scheme."
"We expect this initiative will not just pilot what kind of insurance schemes fit the needs of HIV patients, but also enable the private insurance sector to offer need-based community-led health insurance schemes. For example, to serve lower income PLHIV, we reduced the premium by 40% and have included coverage of hospitalization expenses, excluding tuberculosis and gastroenteritis, before the AIDS stage.," said Mr. V Jagannathan, MD, Star Insurance.
Sharing her views Ms. Asha Ramaiah, General Secretary, KNP+ commented, "I am glad that finally an insurance company has come out with a policy for us. It's a milestone in the fight against the discrimination of people living with HIV. PLHIV and their family members will gain hope and confidence and change the perception that we are a burden to our families."