Health insurance policies that keep out genetic disorders violate fundamental rights, says Delhi High Court

In what is being called a landmark judgment, the Delhi High Court has ruled that Right to Health Insurance is a key part of the right to health and healthcare. This is a right guaranteed to every citizen of India under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The court said that by keeping out genetic disorders, insurance policies are violating the Constitution. Hence, exclusionary clauses in insurance policies seeking to keep out genetic disorders are too broad and ambiguous, and consequently, unconstitutional.

This is a very important judgement from the perspective of disabilities. It does not apply to all disabilities, but will cover many important disabilities, like Down syndrome and Fragile X, to name a few.

The judgment was pronounced in an insurance claim against United India Assurance.

Genetic disorders

The petitioner, who suffers from Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy, was denied insurance because his condition was genetic. Genetic diseases were not payable as per policy. The court ruled in the petitioner's favour. It said people who suffer from genetic disorders are entitled to medical insurance.

The case was appealed in the Delhi High Court. The court ruled that discrimination in health insurance against people based on their genetic disposition or genetic heritage is unconstitutional.

The Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDA) has been directed to re-look at insurance contracts. Insurance companies can no longer reject claims on the basis of exclusions relating to genetic disorders.

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