The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal of the Labour Ministry to amend the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, to provide medical facilities to unorganised workers in ESIC hospitals and recognised private hospitals under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY), a cashless health insurance scheme.

This scheme was originally started to cover the Below Poverty Line families in the unorganised sector.

Later, construction workers, railway porters and beneficiaries under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme were included.

There are about 43 crore unorganised workers in the country, which make up about 94 per cent of the total workforce, said Director-General (Labour Welfare) Anil Swarup. The modalities of the implementation of the extended scheme are being worked out.

Besides extending the benefits to dependants of the insured persons from the present 18 years to 25, it will provide a cover to the workers in case of accidents while commuting to the place of work and back.

The ESIC will be empowered to enter into an agreement with any local authority, local body or private body for commissioning or running ESI hospitals through third party participation for providing medical treatment and attendance to insured persons.

So far, the Centre has distributed about 1.14 crore smart cards under the RSBY. A smart card issued to each beneficiary under the scheme covers a family of five persons, providing health cover for hospitalisation up to Rs. 30,000 per annum.

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