Forum: Explain delays in issuing insurance fair practice guidelines

I am heartened to read that the Monetary Authority of Singapore expects to begin consultations on proposed guidelines for insurers to adopt fair and responsible practices with regard to people with disabilities and those with mental health conditions (Budget debate: Consultations on insurance fair practices guidelines by end of this year, March 4).

Insurance discrimination on the basis of disability or mental health condition can seriously affect the ability of the most vulnerable among us to access healthcare and achieve financial security (Govt help needed to tackle insurer bias against autism, Sept 17, 2020).

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires state parties to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of health and life insurance. Singapore ratified the convention in 2013.

However, I am troubled that Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam did not explain the reasons for the Government's delays in issuing these guidelines in his written parliamentary reply.

This is despite the fact that Workers' Party MP Leon Perera had specifically asked for the reasons for the delays in his parliamentary question.

The Government first announced that it was planning to issue these guidelines "within the next two years" in a report to the UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that was submitted in late 2016.

Subsequently, in 2020, it informed the same UN committee that it would develop the guidelines by last year instead.

A year later, the Government now says that it will begin consultations by the second half of this year.

The Government should explain the reasons behind the multiple delays in developing these guidelines.

Daryl Yang Wei Jian

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