The government's decision to introduce health insurance for people with disabilities is, no doubt, a praiseworthy one. The insurance policy, named "Bangabandhu Suraksha Bima for Persons of Disabilities," will cater to people with autism, Down's syndrome, intellectual disability, and cerebral palsy. Reportedly, the initiative has been piloted in Dhaka city, Dhaka district and Sylhet district as the number of people with autism and other neurological disabilities is higher in Dhaka and Sylhet than in other districts.
Bangladesh's insurance industry isn't too far behind the rest of the world. While the industry's situation is not bad, there is a lot of room for growth. There is an opportunity, in terms of market penetration and digitalization, to take the industry to an even better place.
The regulator can play an important role here by pushing for the advancement of digitalisation and Insurtech. The government needs to remove the barriers. We have been working closely with the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority, Bangladesh Insurance Academy and Bangladesh Bank to launch Bancassurance Service which will enable companies to adapt to the changing market even faster and render better quality services to customers by utilizing the banking channel for insurance service distribution.
A detailed report in this daily tells us that PWDs will not have to pay any fee for the insurance scheme; rather, their parents will have to pay a nominal premium, which will vary depending on their income. Parents whose monthly income is Tk 25,000 or less will have to bear 25 percent of the annual premium or Tk 125, while those whose monthly income is more than Tk 25,000 will have to bear the entire annual premium, which amounts to Tk 600.
People with disabilities aged 3 to 25 years can now sign up for the policy. Decisions for expansion will be taken by the authorities on the basis of the initial response. In this respect, we believe piloting a new project is always a good idea before jumping headlong into unknown territory. It is also a sensible move to initially bring 100,000 people under this program in the first year, and expand it to include the visually impaired, speech-impaired and other categories of disabilities at later stages.
Health insurance for citizens with disabilities is a completely new and innovative idea in Bangladesh that will need careful handling right from the beginning. It must be ensured that the target group can access the services without having to experience unpleasant hassles. Feedback from relevant stakeholders will need to be incorporated to bolster the scheme.
The implementers will need to be prepared to set the best examples of interaction with people with disabilities and their parents/guardians. It goes without saying that a successful implementation of the pilot project will pave the way for bigger and better social welfare projects in the future.