Health insurance policy for workers starts

April 1st, 2008 - 5:36 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The government’s health insurance policy to cover around 300 million poor unorganised sector workers comes into effect from Tuesday. The government earmarked Rs.2.5 billion for the policy in its 2008-09 budget. The national health policy scheme will be implemented in phases. In the current fiscal, the policy will cover 12 million workers from 120 districts in various states. A family of five members living below the poverty line (BPL) will be entitled to health care worth Rs.30,000 per annum.

“Every year, the scheme will be extended to 120 more districts. In this way, the policy will cover all the 604 districts in five years,” an official in the ministry of labour and employment, the nodal agency for the scheme, said Tuesday.

“The beneficiaries in Rajasthan and Haryana are being issued the smart cards with their respective identification numbers to mark the implementation of the scheme,” the official added.

Under the scheme, the central government will bear 75 percent of the total insurance amount disbursed to the beneficiaries, while 25 percent will come from the states. There will be no contribution from the policyholders.

The beneficiaries will be provided with cashless health cards to avail the facility in both private and public hospital, the official said.

The health insurance for the unorganised sector workers is an important feature of the Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Bill 2007, which provides legislative backing to all the social security schemes.

After introducing the bill in the Rajya Sabha Sept 10 last year, Minister for Labour and Employment Oscar Fernandes told reporters that the health insurance scheme would cover 60 million BPL families in five years.

“In all, over 300 million workers will be benefited from the scheme. During the first year, an expenditure of about Rs.7 billion is estimated. Rs.35 billion will be the cumulative expenditure at the end of five years when all the 60 million BPL families will be covered,” the minister had said.

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