In a landmark move that will benefit insurance claimants with genetic diseases, the Delhi High Court on Monday ruled that insurance companies cannot discriminate against people with such ailments. The court also observed that such practices violate people's rights.
Excluding people with genetic disorders from obtaining health insurance or denying their claims is ''discriminatory" and contrary to public policy, Justice Pratibha M Singh observed while delivering a verdict in favor of one Jai Prakash Tayal against United India Assurance Company, reported the Times of India.
United India Assurance Company had refused the insurance claim of Tayal, who was suffering from Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy. The company denied the claim by saying his condition was genetic, and as per his health insurance policy, no sum is payable for genetic diseases.
The high court noticed observed that the exclusionary clause of "genetic disorders" in the insurance policy was violative of Article 14 (equality before the law) of the Constitution of India.
Ruling in favor of Tayal, the court observed that the right to avail the health insurance is an integral part of the Right to Healthcare and Right to Health, as recognized in Article 21 of the Constitution. It also observed that discrimination in health insurance based on a genetic disorder is unconstitutional, reported Bar and Bench.
The court felt that there was a need for a framework that would prevent genetic discrimination and would dictate how genetic data is collected and preserved, and also how it is kept confidential.
"Insurance companies are free to structure their contracts based on reasonable and intelligible factors which should not be arbitrary and in any case cannot be exclusionary," the court observed.
The court also asked the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to scrutinize the exclusionary clauses in insurance policies. This would be to make sure that insurance firms do not reject claims on the basis of genetic disorders, the Bar and Bench report said.