After providing cashless health insurance cover to below poverty line (BPL) in-door patients under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), Punjab is all set to introduce the scheme in the OPD services as well.
The Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC), the nodal agency implementing the RSBY in the state, had submitted a plan to the Centre for its nod to the proposal of opening the scheme in three districts-Ferozepur, Bathinda and Ropar as a pilot project.
RSBY is a centrally-sponsored scheme providing cashless healthcare benefits to the BPL families through a health insurance cover of up to Rs. 30,000 per family (a unit of five members) per year.
Against the 2.16 lakh RSBY card holders registered in Punjab, the actual beneficiaries availing this healthcare facility remained 23,000 in the financial year 2011-12.
Though the actual beneficiary figures significantly increased from 8,000 in 2010-11 to 23,000 last year, one of the reasons for proposing to cover OPD patients as well under the scheme was to step up the availing of hospital services by more card holders, the Punjab's RSBY state manager Saroj Nain told HT.
"The OPD is also the main thrust area of health care for poor in our hospitals," Nain said, adding that the addition of OPD clause in the RSBY would greatly benefit the poor.
"Moreover, the BPL patients are mainly casual labourers and, thus, do not want to get hospitalized as this leads to the loss of their daily-wage," she added.
The PHSC authorities had recently took up the matter with the union ministry of labour and employment, formally submitting the draft of the pilot project for OPD patients under the scheme in the three aforesaid districts.
Director general labour welfare Anil Swarup, who heads the RSBY project nationwide, has agreed "in principle" to cover the OPD patients as well, PHSC managing director Raji P. Srivastava told HT.
Swarup was here on Saturday to attend a workshop-cum-seminar on the implementation of RSBY in the northern states.
The state has been asked to arrange additional funds either from any central agency like the National Rural Health Mission or from the state exchequer so that the poor OPD patients could also be covered under RSBY, she said.
The PHSC has also sent the proposal to the National Rural Health Mission for funding this initiative in the current year, she said.
The state budget for this centrally-sponsored scheme has also been enhanced from Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 3 cr in 2012-13. The state is to contribute 25% share to implement RSBY.
Around 23000 beneficiaries availed healthcare services, through a vast network of 148 government hospitals and 185 private hospitals, resulting in claims of Rs 14.22 crore being lodged with the insurance companies.