Forum: Laws needed to end insurance bias

Mr Wesley Loh's call for government intervention to ensure that persons with autism are able to access insurance coverage just like those without disabilities is timely (Govt help needed to tackle insurer bias against autism, Sept 17).

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), state parties are obliged to prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance.

Singapore ratified the CRPD in July 2013. However, it placed a reservation on Article 25(e) on the basis that Singapore does not mandate private insurance companies to provide insurance for persons with disabilities.

In its initial report to the CRPD Committee in June 2016, the Government stated that it was "looking to incorporate this general principle (of non-discriminatory treatment) in guidelines that private insurers are expected to abide by" in the following two years.

Yet, as Mr Loh's letter demonstrates, insurance discrimination remains a serious issue in our society, affecting the health and well-being of not only those with autism, but also persons with disabilities in general.

The Disabled People's Association (DPA) recently called on the Government to remove its reservation on Article 25(e) in its first parallel report to the CRPD Committee. The Government should adopt DPA's recommendation and take immediate steps to address the problem of insurance discrimination. In addition, such discriminatory practices should be expressly prohibited by legislation.

These policy interventions will take us one step closer to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's vision of a society that cares for all its members and does not ignore the needs of those with disabilities.

Daryl Yang Wei Jian