Free healthcare, insurance proposed for poor households
A group of secretaries constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recommended providing free health and life insurance to the 100 million extremely poor households in the country identified as “deprived” under the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census.
This means four of every 10 households in the country would be entitled to free medical and life insurance. For the remaining households, the group has recommended health and life insurance schemes with annual covers of Rs 50,000 and Rs 200,000, respectively, under the Jeevan Jyoti Yojana scheme launched by the PM last year. The annual premium under these two schemes would be Rs 330 and Rs 670, respectively. The group has set a three-year time frame to roll out the schemes.
The 12-member group on education and health — universal access and quality, with revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia as rapporteur, made a three-hour presentation to the PM on January 17 on how to bring about “transformative” changes in the two crucial social sectors.
The group also recommended mandatory fortification of staple food items — wheat, rice, edible oil and milk — with essential micronutrients to rein in malnutrition. Micronutrient deficiency impacts the growth of children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. At present, 12 states provide one or two staple food items fortified with essential micronutrients.
“The group said it should be mandated by law to provide fortification of four staple food items and has set a two-year time frame to implement the scheme. Currently, 84 countries provide fortified staple food items,” an official said.
Other suggestions included availability of 300 essential drugs free of cost at all government hospitals, extending the Jan Aushadhi Scheme (essential generic medicines to be supplied at a low cost) at all district hospitals and setting up a national electronic health database of patients. The database would allow hospitals to access medical records of patients anywhere in the country.