It’s a move that will go a long way in empowering widowed/separated daughters dependent on their parents.
Last month, the ministry of health and family welfare decided to expand the ambit of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) to include dependent children of widowed/separated daughters as beneficiaries under the government’s comprehensive health scheme. Till now, serving central government employees, pensioners, current and former members of Parliament, serving and retired judges of Supreme Court and high court, freedom fighters, accredited journalists, former governor and former vice president of India could avail of CGHS benefits.
“The move has been initiated with the aim of empowering widowed and separated daughters who live with parents who are CGHS beneficiaries,” said a health ministry official.
Though the health ministry does not have an exact count of dependent children of widowed/ separated daughters of CGHS beneficiaries, senior officials said the move would benefit thousands of children.
“It’s a conservative estimate that the number would run into thousands,” said a ministry official.
Currently, there are nine lakh CGHS beneficiaries in India, of which six lakh are serving government employees.
Currently, the health ministry spends approximately R1,200 crore on CGHS. “The number of dependent children of widowed/separated daughters of CGHS beneficiaries runs into a few thousands. It won’t result in any massive hike in the CGHS budget,” said a senior ministry official.
The decision was taken following the recommendation of the 6th Central Pay Commission to expand the definition of “family” under CGHS.
“The health ministry has examined the matter and it has now been decided, with the approval of the competent authority, to expand the definition of family under CGHS to include minor children of widowed/separated daughters, who are dependent upon the CGHS beneficiary,” a ministry circular stated.
The upper age limit of the dependents for the purpose of being eligible for CGHS medical facilities will be 18 years. “They should normally be residing with the government servant/pensioner,” the circular added.
The Central Government Health Scheme was started in 1954 to provide comprehensive health care facilities to central government employees, pensioners and their family members residing in CGHS covered cities.
The medical facilities are provided through wellness centres, polyclinics under allopathic, ayurveda, yoga, unani and homeopathic system of medicines.