KARNATAKA

New ESI guidelines: garment workers are the worst hit

The ESI Corporation’s recent guidelines restricting free treatment to beneficiaries with pre-existing ailments in case of malignancy and chronic renal failure (before they obtained the ESI card) has hit hard on garment workers in the city.

Although doctors said the guidelines are aimed at preventing potential misuse of super-speciality treatment (SST), workers from the unorganised sector are upset that they would not be able to afford treatment in private hospitals for these ailments.

Members of the Garment Textile Workers’ Union (GATWU), who claimed that the workers are not aware of the new rules, said this was a big blow to the beneficiaries. Although the new rule affects all workers, the city’s five lakh garment workers are the worst hit as most of them are women who would not have undergone any medical check-up before they joined work, said Raju B.C., GATWU joint secretary.

“Only after they get the ESI cards they have the benefit of getting medical facilities. If the malignancy is pre-existing and is diagnosed after they get the card, why should they be denied free treatment,” he asked.

GATWU legal adviser Jayaram K.R. said the union would take it up with the authorities. “Why should the beneficiaries pay for treatment in ESI hospitals when they are already paying their ESI contribution? They can get the same treatment in private hospitals,” he said.

Protest

Asked to pay in full for dialysis at the ESIC Model Hospital at Rajajinagar on Wednesday, some renal patients staged a protest.

Hospital Medical Superintendent Rachita Biswas told The Hindu that the new rules were framed by the Centre. However, if the person suffered from these ailments after availing himself or herself of the ESI card, he or she is entitled to treatment at ESI hospitals, she said.

“We have already communicated the beneficiaries’ grouse to the Centre. We will write again,” she said adding that the patients could avail themselves of the free facility till July-end.

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