Staff Reporter

Health insurance scheme to be expanded

The scheme has covered 22 lakh families

It offers several additional benefits this year

Thiruvananthapuram: The Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS), the State government's modified version of the Centrally-sponsored Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna, which is entering its second year of implementation, will be expanded to provide health insurance cover for 35 lakh families.

In its first year, the scheme had covered 22 lakh families. The first term of the scheme will come to a close on March 31. The renewal of smart cards of the current beneficiaries and the enrolment of new members would begin in April, an official release issued by the Comprehensive Health Insurance Agency, Kerala, (CHIAK), the agency in charge of the implementation of the scheme, said. The CHIS this year offers several additional benefits. All farmers, coir, cashew, handloom, beedi, khadi, and plantation workers, regardless of their APL/BPL status will be included in the scheme. Also, all those who worked for 50 days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Ashraya families, fishermen and SC/ST families will also being included in the scheme.

This year, free medical treatment worth Rs.70,000 is being offered additionally for the treatment of heart diseases, cancer and renal diseases. The money that is being offered to a family in the event of death of the head of the family or his wife has been enhanced from Rs.25,000 to Rs.50,000 this year.

Another special benefit is an additional aid of Rs.50,000 for the treatment of serious burn injuries. No health insurance scheme in any State was offering these facilities, the statement said.

The scheme is currently operational in 134 government hospitals and 165 private hospitals. Kerala is the only State which has evolved a health insurance scheme covering both APL and BPL families.

The scheme offers an annual medical insurance coverage of Rs.30,000 to a BPL family of five members for a premium of Rs.30. APL families can join the scheme by paying the full premium, which has been fixed this year at Rs.464.