Health Insurance Covers To Include LGBTQ PersonsWednesday February 23, 2022 at 3:50 pm
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) player Procter & Gamble India has announced that it will extend its financial and medical benefits to the partners of its LGBTQ+ (Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals, Transsexuals, Queens, and others) employees in an announcement that shows efforts made by many similar businesses to be more inclusive of sexual minorities.
From April 1, 2022, partners of employees that are LGBTQ+ will also be covered under the company’s medical plan, which includes hospitalization coverage. Companies widening their support, which provides for healthcare, to include these employees is a big step toward a more inclusive world. Those who identify themselves as LGBTQ+ have always struggled to access healthcare professionals who understand their specific needs.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill (2019) was first introduced in Lok Sabha on July 19, 2019. It proposed the steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons, including those specific to their needs, such as separate HIV surveillance centers and sex reassignment surgeries. The government of India shall review the existing medical curriculum to empower it to better address the health issues of transgender persons and thus provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
Many similar companies such as Citibank, RBS, Capgemini, Tata Group, etc., are already extending medical cover/family health insurance coverage to transgender employees. Plum, another health insurance company, also incorporated LGBTQ cover within their employee benefits policy and is now offering the benefit to customers. The co-founder and CEO, Plum, Abhishek Poddar, said, “Gender reassignment surgeries were previously considered cosmetic (and hence not normally covered), but we have now been able to include them as part of the standard group medical cover. What this means is that we can offer these policies to all our clients, even by default,”
Inclusion doesn’t always mean having to create new policies or standards. Abhishek Poddar said, “All we needed to do was widen the scope of what is possible so that they can be included in the same benefits as heterosexual people. After all, that’s what equity is; being impartial and just towards everyone. So, essentially, it is the same standard group medical insurance policy, with the important distinction that it is now more inclusive,”
In April 2019, the country’s insurance regulator had issued advisories to all the insurers operating in-country to ensure that there is no discrimination towards the LGBTQ section of the society in providing health insurance.
According to a recent report, LGBTQ+ persons form close to 15 percent of the Indian population.
“We see a few proposals received from the LGBTQ community, mainly from urban areas, and they are being processed at par, with no discrimination. The numbers did grow during the pandemic period as Covid-19 also did not discriminate in spreading infection. Secondly, as this section of society is small and spread out among so many insurers, the awareness for health and personal accident insurance has been on the rise, and we see more proposals coming now,” Gurdeep Singh Batra, who is head-retail underwriting of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance claimed.
“Understand the policy coverage and see if it fits with what you’re looking for. It’s also crucial to understand the claim process, exclusions under the policy, and network hospitals of your insurer as it helps have a seamless experience at the time of making a claim,” Batra claimed.
Abhishek Poddar added, “Due to the pressures of society, the LGBTQ community may experience higher instances of substance abuse, depression, and anxiety than the general population. Including them in standard policies is just the start. We need to have more and deeper conversations about these aspects so that we can continue to make progress,”