The Yeshasvini Health Insurance Scheme designed for the farming community to undergo hospitalisation when required at a medical centre of their choice, will restart from July 15. The scheme, which had won accolades from the World Bank and other national and international agencies, was on hold for nearly five months causing anxiety among farmers and their dependants.

The health scheme started in 2003 by the S.M. Krishna government was placed on the backburner by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government with the announcement that the scheme would be merged with two other Central insurance schemes — Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and the Vajpayee Arogyasri. An announcement on the then government’s new thinking on the health insurance scheme was also announced in the last budget, much to the dismay of farmers who were the beneficiaries for over a decade.

Minister for Cooperation H.S. Mahadeva Prasad told The Hindu: “The plan is to not merely restart the Yeshasvini scheme but to add new features which will serve the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Of the nearly 2.2 crore members of the cooperative societies in the State, who are eligible for coverage under the health insurance scheme, nearly nine lakhs are SC and STs, and a large share of them have not got the benefits for various reasons. This is why the government is contemplating on helping them in the payment of the annual premium for the scheme.”

Self-funding

Mr. Mahadeva Prasad said the health insurance scheme is more or less self-funding, with the money raised from premiums to be around Rs. 60 crore while the State government provides an annual contribution (Rs. 45 crore for the current year). In the past year, nearly 30 lakh farmers had enrolled for health insurance.

Demography

Karnataka has a significant rural population (around 56 per cent) primarily engaged in agriculture and related activities. Despite the many hospitals and medical colleges across the State, the bed occupancy rate has been as low as 45 per cent and a large number of people who require hospital treatment have been dying, simply because they cannot afford treatment. The chief challenge to the State government has been to provide these segments of the population easy access to affordable healthcare in a sustainable manner, and the Yeshasvini scheme has been a model in the healthcare for the poor.

Those involved

The important players in the implementation of the scheme are the Department of Cooperation and the Yeshasvini Cooperative Farmers Health Care Trust, which comprises eminent doctors. The incumbent Chief Minister is the patron-in-chief and the Minister for Cooperation, the patron of the Trust. The scheme also covers surgeries — the beneficiaries are entitled to 805 surgical procedures identified in 13 specialities in the medical field apart from emergency treatment.

Members can seek treatment at any one of the 470 participating established government and private hospitals, including some leading corporate hospitals and clinics.

Enrol from July 15

The enrolment of farmers under the scheme will begin from July 15 and end on October 15. Any member of a rural cooperative society, who has completed six months of membership, is eligible for enrolment after paying a premium of Rs. 210.