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India – Health insurance for the urban poor

Experts meet to fine-tune insurance for the deprived

New Delhi – The Capital’s urban poor will soon be able to afford healthcare up to Rs 1.5 lakh without paying a paisa. Set up as a registered society, the Delhi Sanjeevni Trust met for the first time on Wednesday to work out the finer details of the programme.

The ambitious insurance scheme aims to enroll the entire city’s population — starting with BPL families — within the next six months.

To put together the best health insurance scheme for people from the Economically Weaker Sections, public health experts from all spheres have been brought together as trustees of the Board. They include specialists like Dr Srinath Reddy, President of Public Health Foundation of India, Dr Ajit Nagpal, Chairman of Batra Hospital, Som Mittal, President of The National Association of Software and Service Companies and Dr Shyama Nagarajan, health specialist with the World Bank.

“This is a welcome initiative from the Delhi government, which is trying to ensure that economic barriers do not distance people from the essential healthcare,” said Reddy.

“The objective is to facilitate universal healthcare though third party financing mechanism,” said Dr Nagpal. “We are aiming to provide insurance for the city’s population but will be starting with the BPL families first.”

The health department is currently working on a Cabinet note, which will be tabled at the forthcoming Cabinet meeting.

The trust — headed by a chief executive officer — is modelled on the Rajiv Arogyashri Health Insurance Scheme run by the Andhra Pradesh government. Under it, the BPL beneficiaries can be treated at hospitals without making any payment there for procedures covered under the scheme. The same is the case for diagnostics, if eventually the patient does not need surgery or therapy. Plus, the hospitals have to conduct at least one free medical camp a month, taking advanced evaluation to the doorstep of patient.

The Delhi government’s ambitious project to provide low-cost healthcare was put on hold in 2005 and 2007.

Source – Express India, Nov. 5, 2009

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