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New health protection scheme for the poor

The scheme will provide health cover of up to 1 lakh per family, and it will work similar to a family floater plan

Staying with the government’s plan to introduce financial schemes to allow for social security for the poor, the budget announced a new health protection scheme which will provide health cover up to 1 lakh per family. This may work like a floater policy which considers the entire family as one unit. So, if one member of the family makes use of the cover, the sum insured, in this case 1 lakh, will reduce by that much amount. “This is a positive move and an improvement over the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) scheme. RSBY was successful, but the cover was only 30,000 for a family of five. The premiums were shared by the Centre and the state, and individuals had to pay 30 only. The policy did not include outpatient care and had packaged rates negotiated with the hospitals," said Bhargav Dasgupta, managing director and chief executive officer, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd.

For senior citizens of age 60 years and above belonging to poor and economically weak families, an additional top-up package up to 30,000 will now be provided. “We are awaiting details of the proposed scheme in terms of the premium amount, who will administer the scheme, how will the rates be decided with the hospitals, what will the policy cover including whether outpatient treatment will be covered. We need to get details of the enrolment process, whether it will be through banks as is with other social security initiatives introduced in the past," said Dasgupta.

Further, to make quality medicines available at affordable prices the government will open 3,000 stores under the Jan Aushadhi Yojana during 2016-17. The finance minister also said that about 220,000 new patients of end-stage renal disease get added every year resulting in additional demand for 34 million dialysis sessions. He said that there are only 4,950 dialysis centres, largely in the private sector and concentrated in bigger cities and towns. So, to create supply, the government will start a National Dialysis Services Programme for which the funds will be made available through public-private partnership under the National Health Mission, to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals. To reduce the cost, certain parts of dialysis equipment have been exempted from basic customs duty, excise, countervailing duty and special additional duty.

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