Home >politics >policy >Health services for industrial workers in three states, one UT

New Delhi: The labour ministry on Friday decided to expand its health services for industrial workers to three more states and a Union territory (UT) and set up a committee to devise a plan to accommodate unorganized sector workers under the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). At the ESIC board meeting, the labour ministry decided to take its medical services to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and decided to cover all 393 industrial districts of the country by 1 April.

The ministry said the new committee will work towards “coverage of the unorganized sector by reducing the threshold limit" and may allow organizations and shops deploying five or more workers to avail of ESIC facilities—thus boosting social security of workers.

Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said select groups in urban areas like rickshaw pullers, auto-rickshaw drivers, anganwadi (creche) workers and other such categories had been identified and “will be provided medical benefits". The minister said the government is making efforts “so that more and more workers of the country get social security benefits, including medical care".

ESIC is the healthcare arm of the labour ministry and provides industrial workers medical facilities ranging from out-patient to tertiary care treatment. The corporation has more than 19.5 million insured persons (IPs) and benefits over 76 million people.

Every month, eligible employees contribute 1.75% of their salary and employers contribute 4.75% to the ESIC corpus. The corporation provides services either through its own hospitals or empanelled ones, though the quality of its service has been a concern.

The ESIC board also decided to take care of medical expenses of workers seeking critical care. This means, instead of depending on the state where a person is undergoing treatment, ESIC will directly pay for such treatments. In July, it decided to ask states to take care of such treatment, to be reimbursed by ESIC latter.

Dattatreya said ESIC will also bear the expenses incurred on super-speciality treatment of ESIC beneficiaries over and above the expenditure by states.

“ESIC will directly run its health services in all the states and states should not be asked to bear the cost of medical expenses. For this, ESIC is likely to design a new structure at the state level in the form of a subsidiary corporation in which the state and central government as well as employees’ and employers’ organizations will be duly represented," the corporation said in separate statement.

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