Bengal Offers Swasthya Sathi Scheme for Basic Health Coverage

Swasthya Sathi Scheme
Swasthya Sathi Scheme

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s project of introducing Group Health Insurance Scheme to cover around 3 crore (30 million) population and issuing Swasthya Sathi Cards to the beneficiaries for availing the services is expected to be completed within this month.

The government claims that around 93 percent of the work has already been completed as 40 lakh (4 million) families across the state have already been given the Swasthya Sathi Card as a result of which, more than 2 crore people are already getting the benefits of the health insurance scheme.

The health department officials believe that the remaining 5 lakh families will soon be covered under the scheme. A total of 3 crore people or 45 lakh families would be included in the scheme as the Chief Minister had announced in February 2016.

She announced that people working in self help groups, ICDS workers, ASHA workers, civic volunteers, civil defence volunteers, and various other workers would be covered under the health insurance scheme.

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Under the Swasthya Sathi scheme, the state government provides basic health coverage for secondary and tertiary care up to Rs 1.5 lakh per annum to each worker.

In case of critical illnesses and surgeries like cancer, neurosurgeries, cardiothoracic surgeries, liver diseases and blood disorders, the patients are entitled to get up to Rs 5 lakh for each patient or their family members.

All pre-existing diseases are covered under this scheme. The state government will bear the entire premium and the beneficiaries need not contribute to avail the benefit.

The Swasthya Sathi Cards will have detailed information about the beneficiaries and their names. Distribution of smart cards was started in December last year when the Chief Minister handed over Swasthya Sathi Crards to 20 beneficiaries.

It was learnt that there will be no cap on the family size and parents of both the spouses will be covered. All newborns will be covered whereas all pre-existing diseases will be covered from day one.

The state government has already tied up with 700 hospitals both public and private which are brought under the coverage of health scheme.

After seeing the success of the Bengal’s Group Health Insurance Scheme, according to Bengal government, the Centre is trying to introduce the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) to provide better healthcare facilities to people.

Photo courtesy: All India Trinamool Congress

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Rakesh Raman