Jamaica AIDS Support for Life welcomes Sagicor policy
Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) yesterday said it was heartened by news that insurance company Sagicor will now be offering policies of up to $10 million to HIV-positive applicants.
“We congratulate the company for this progressive and forward-thinking step. This bold move will now allow the over 32,000 Jamaicans living with the virus to gain access to substantial life insurance coverage,” JASL said in a news release.
The group noted that for decades, it and other civil society partners had been lobbying for there to be an end to discriminatory practices among insurance companies in providing coverage for People Living with HIV (PLHIV).
The release reported Patrick Lalor, JASL policy and advocacy officer as saying that what Sagicor has done is to open a door that has been shut for far too long in the faces of many Jamaicans.
“We have dealt with cases in the past where our clients were unable to access insurance or given minimal coverage. When we reached out to the insurance companies it was often postured that this is not discrimination because it is a part of their procedures for a range of illnesses, of which HIV is a part. However, when we look on the range of illnesses within it, where science is with HIV now, it would be unfair or unreasonable to put someone in that category if they're adhering,” the release quoted Lalor.
Prior to this, the options for PLHIV only included access to coverage through guaranteed issue or coupon policies with a maximum coverage of $5 million. The new Sagicor package will be eligible for people between the ages of 20 and 64 years old and will require applicants to provide a full medical history, HIV test results and their physician's report.
Mark Chisholm, executive vice-president for Sagicor Life Individual Life Division, noted that the new approach is as a result of the noticeable advancement in antiretroviral drugs over the years.
Antiretrovirals are used to prevent a retrovirus, such as HIV, from replicating. Taking the medication correctly can lead to viral suppression (a reduction of the virus in the blood) and strengthening of the immune system. This will lead to dramatic reductions in HIV-associated morbidity and mortality. The result is that HIV-infected individuals are now leading long and healthy lives.