Income criterion liberalised, higher assistance for treatment, more diseases covered

There is something to cheer about for poor people who do not fall under the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) category as the eligibility criterion of annual income to avail themselves of the Health Minister’s Discretionary Grant (HMDG) has been raised from Rs. 75,000 to 1,00,000, as also an increase in the financial limit for treatment.

The Union Ministry has also expanded the list of diseases for treatment of which financial help is given.

Under the HMDG scheme, a maximum assistance of Rs. 50,000 was given to the poor and needy as part of the expenditure incurred on hospitalisation for major surgical interventions and treatment of major diseases including heart ailments, kidney transplant, hip and knee replacement, cancer, AIDS, hepatitis and tumour.

As per the existing guidelines, assistance is granted up to Rs. 20,000 if the cost of treatment is Rs. 50,000; up to Rs. 40,000 if the cost is above Rs. 50,000 and up to Rs. 50,000 if it is above Rs. 1,00,000.

As per the new guidelines, approved by Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last week, the entitlement will now be Rs. 50,000 if the estimated cost of treatment is Rs. 1,00,000; Rs. 75,000 (above Rs. 1,00,000 and up to 1,50,000) and Rs 1,00,000 (above Rs 1,50,000).

The new areas covered under the scheme are urology, nephrology, gastroenterology, liver transplant and surgery for portal hypertension, cases of complicated diabetes which require one-time treatment such as amputation or renal transplant. BPL families are covered under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN), where financial assistance is provided for treating life-threatening diseases and medical aid is received in government hospitals. The financial assistance is released in the form of a “one-time grant”.

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