Govt is making a list of migrant workers from states to offer health insurance benefits under AB-PMJAY
Migrant workers who receive e-cards can avail treatment from empanelled hospitals across the country
NEW DELHI :
The government is preparing a list of migrant workers from across states to offer health insurance benefits under the flagship Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) amid the coronavirus crisis.
The National Health Authority (NHA), the implementing agency, said on Wednesday that it was coordinating with state governments to identify eligible beneficiaries, and is setting up a process to issue AB-PMJAY e-cards to migrants at the earliest. The move is aimed at ensuring health cover to the under-privileged during the pandemic.
At present the cashless scheme provides health cover of as much as ₹5 lakh per family a year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 107.4 million poor and vulnerable families, or about 530 million individuals.
“The NHA is actively supporting and coordinating with states where migrant labourers are returning. Our aim is to ensure that all eligible migrant workers receive e-cards so that they can access treatment at any of the empanelled hospitals across the country," said Dr. Indu Bhushan, chief executive officer, AB-PMJAY and NHA.
“We are using this opportunity to sensitize the returning migrant workers about the benefits of Ayushman Bharat, particularly about the portability feature of the scheme. Further, we are working with states in empanelling more hospitals and labs and mobilizing the existing hospitals to provide covid and non-covid treatments to our beneficiaries." Bhushan said at least 80% of the 107.4 million PMJAY beneficiary families are in rural India.
The move may provide some relief to India’s floating workforce, who have been under extreme distress since the nationwide lockdown was imposed, leading to loss of livelihood and lives, besides starvation and health complications.
Many were forced to trudge hundreds of kilometres to reach their homes, while some were lucky to get public transport to reach home states.
The NHA has also tied up with DigiLocker, the flagship initiative of the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY)’s Digital India Programme, to provide access to authentic digital documents to the citizenry.
The NHA said all beneficiaries, including migrants, can easily access their cards online anytime, anywhere. This will help forgo the fear of losing paper cards. The initiative will help many migrant families who may have lost or misplaced their documents while returning to their villages, following job losses.
According to the national census, migrant workers comprised 48% of residents in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru in 2011. Most came from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Many of these migrants tested positive for covid-19 and had to be quarantined and treated.
“If we look from the health aspect, the exposure and status of infection of the migrant labourers are unknown and if infected will have serious repercussions," said Dr. Suresh Sharma, head, population research centre, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University.
“This crisis definitely gives an opportunity to both the central and state governments to transform and improve the weak health system. The Centre should give equal importance to health as is the case with the defence sector, to be able to contain future pandemics," he said.
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