N.J. Nair

Universal Health Insurance Scheme for BPL families

  • Three firms have evinced interest in the scheme
  • Premium may be higher than Rs.399

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Government will negotiate with public sector insurance companies to work out a viable health scheme for families below the poverty line (BPL) in the State.

    Local Administration Department sources told The Hindu that the Life Insurance Corporation, United India Insurance and Oriental Insurance companies had evinced interest to associate with the Government. The premium rates would be higher than the Rs. 399 a year quoted by a private company.

    Union Minister for Finance P. Chidambaram had clarified that the Universal Health Insurance Scheme for BPL families was specifically designed for implementation through public sector companies with Union Government subsidy. Working out a scheme with any of the three companies would be easier.

    The provision in the non-Plan budget of the Union Finance Ministry had also specified that only public sector companies were eligible for the subsidy and the State Government considered it a safer option than involving private companies, sources said.

    After working out the details, the new health scheme would be implemented mainly through Government hospitals and also through Government-accredited hospitals where there were no public health facilities.

    The primary aim was to provide cheap and efficient health care to the weaker sections and strengthen the public health system, sources said.

    Treatment expenses

    The monopoly of private sector companies was feared to escalate the expenses for treatment and make it inaccessible to the poor.

    If the companies tended to arbitrarily reject the claims or set a limit for clearing the claims, it would not be of any help to the target groups.

    In the absence of a monitoring mechanism, it would lead to misuse of the system and pave the way for corrupt practices too. All such aspects would be considered before implementing the scheme, sources said.

    Since the scheme was proposed to be implemented through local self-government institutions (LSGIs), a pilot project would be launched in select areas, and after analysing the outcome, it would be extended to more areas.

    A final decision would be made only after discussions at various levels, including elected representatives. But realising the Rs. 5.9 crore deposited by the previous Government in the account of a private insurance company before working out the details would not be easy, sources said.

    The department had already written to Mr. Chidambaram seeking to revise the list of BPL families and provide medical care to 25 lakh families as estimated by the State Government, sources said.

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