Briefly tell us about ESIC.
The Employment State Insurance Corporation was first major legislation on comprehensive social security for workers in independent India. It is a social security scheme, which covers workers who are getting up to Rs 10,000 monthly salary. ESIC is unique as it is both an insurance and a service provider. As of now, covered employees contribute 1.75 per cent of the wages and employers contribute 4.75 percent of the wages, payable to the insured persons.
What are the major schemes of ESIC?
We provide complete medical and sickness benefit with no upper limits to beneficiaries, besides, adequate cash compensation to insured persons for loss of wages or earning capacity in times of physical distress arising out of sickness or employment injury. We have at least one hospital in all states. So far, we have ensured over 1.25 crore people.
Many ESIC hospitals are in poor shape and therefore people avoid treatment at these places. However, employees pay 1.75 per cent of their salary towards ESIC. So why don’t you reimburse treatment charges to those who get treated outside?
We reimburse in case we refer a patient for treatment outside ESIC hospitals.
Nevertheless, we do agree that some of our hospitals are not of high standards and so we have decided to upgrade all our existing hospitals. Currently, upgradation is on at Bangalore, Mumbai, Jaipur, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. We are also planning new hospitals at Gurgaon, Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Batti (HP) and Ahmedabad.
In these times of economic downturn, are you having any schemes for the employees who are being laid off?
Yes, under our Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana, we give unemployment allowance for six months, which can be utilised within one-year period. Even during these times, we continue to provide medical benefits to insured person and his/her family. Not only this, we also provide free vocational training to laid off employees government ITIs (indutrial training institutes) during this period. Nearly 3,500 people have already benefited from this scheme.
Do you have any special schemes for differently-abled employees?
We launched scheme for differently-abled people last July. Here, employees with salaries upto 25,000 are covered. To encourage employers to recruit such people, we do not charge the otherwise required 4.75 per cent of the wages payable to the employee.
What are ESIC’s futures plans?
We are making ISO certification mandatory for all our hospitals. We are also in the process of interlinking all our hospitals with information technology and therefore a beneficiary can avail medical aid at all our hospitals using a bio-metric id card that will have all his/her details. Tenders for this will be finalised in February and implementation will be over a period of 18 months. .
Apart from these, we have also decided to open one post-graduate medical, dental and paramedical college in every state. The first batch of admissions will begin in 2010-11.