The woes of LGBTQ people in India are countless. They are subjected to discrimination all through their lives in terms of employment opportunities, education, healthcare and many other basic human rights. This leads to their marginalisation and exclusion from mainstream society.
In order to address some of these issues, several policies have been designed to eliminate discrimination against the members of the LGBTQ community. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019 was one of those which proposed the provision of health services such as separate HIV surveillance centres and sex reassignment surgeries for the benefit of transgender persons in India.
Role of India Inc. in Healthcare Inclusion of LGBTQ Community
There is a dire need to focus on the availability of quality healthcare to the members of the LGBTQ community. This is important, especially because of the uniqueness of their needs in healthcare. Recognising this, India Inc has stepped up to improve healthcare access for them.
Procter & Gamble India has recently committed that all financial and medical benefits granted by the firm will also be extended to its LGBTQ+ employees’ partners. Following the announcement, the LGBTQ+ employees’ partners will be covered under the company’s medical plan, which includes hospitalisation coverage, beginning April 1, 2022.
Previously, many organisations, including Citibank, RBS, Capgemini, and the Tata Group, have agreed to provide medical coverage and family health insurance to transgender employees.
Health Insurance for LGBTQ Community in India
Plum, a health insurance firm in India, has recently added LGBTQ coverage to its employee benefits policy and is now making it available to its clients as well.
“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,” says Abhishek Poddar, co-founder and CEO, Plum.
Inclusion doesn’t necessarily mean having to create new policies or standards. “All we needed to do was simply 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,” says Poddar.
Speaking on specifics to focus on while availing a health insurance policy for an LGBTQ individual, Poddar added, “It’s important to address specific health needs and risks while availing LGBTQ health insurance as every individual may have different needs. For some, the primary need may be for hormone therapy and surgery while others may be more focused on mental well-being. “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.”