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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

After hiccups, Punjab set to launch universal health insurance from Aug 20

The previous date for the launch of the scheme was July 1 this year; this, however, was delayed due to financial constraints.

punjab Updated: Aug 15, 2019 11:50 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh will launch the Universal Health Insurance scheme from Mohali.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh will launch the Universal Health Insurance scheme from Mohali. (PTI File )
         

After delaying it for ten months, the Congress-led government in Punjab is set to launch its much-hyped Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana (Universal Health Insurance) from August 20. An extensive advertisement campaign was also launched on social media and radio on Wednesday.

State health and family welfare minister Balbir Sidhu told HT that chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh will launch the scheme from Mohali and modalities for the same are complete. The Punjab cabinet had given the go-ahead for it on October 3, 2018.

It is not for the first time that the health department has fixed a deadline to launch the insurance scheme, which has been clubbed with the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) also known as ‘Ayushman Bharat’. Under this scheme, around 15 lakh families under the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC-2011) were to be covered for providing health cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per annum. The previous date the minister Sidhu had announced for the launch of the scheme was July 1 this year; this, however, was delayed due to financial constraints.

Punjab added 28 lakh families

Notably, the Punjab government has added nearly 28 lakh families in the scheme, aiming to bring a total of 42 lakh families in the state under this insurance scheme. These are families of farmers, construction workers and small traders, as well as the other poor families (currently covered under the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana – BPSSBY). “Now, we are all prepared to launch this scheme which would prove to be a milestone in health services in Punjab. We have got all desired financial sanctions for the scheme and money is not an issue at all,” Sidhu said.

The state government has estimated that it needs an estimated Rs 300 crore to cover 42 lakh families. To ensure this happens, the state will cut the budgets of other departments, “as and where necessary”.

The state government needed Rs 65 crore to implement the Ayushman Bharat as per SECC data. The cost of covering the additional 28 lakh families will add another Rs 220 crore to the cost.

According to the plan of the government, this amount was to be provided by the Punjab Mandi Board; the Construction Worker’s Welfare Fund and by the excise and taxation department. With another 6-7 lakh government employees already covered with insurance schemes, only a few “rich families” have been left out of the purview of the scheme, that is now, effectively, reaching out to the population of the entire state.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 22:25 IST

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