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Health cover soon for cab, auto drivers

All registered taxi drivers, auto drivers and rickshaw pullers will soon be eligible for cheap health insurance, as promised by the Finance Minister in his Budget speech.

Sanitation workers, ragpickers and mine workers, too, will get covered under the UPA Government’s flagship health programme for the poor – the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY).

The Labour Ministry has submitted the Cabinet note for including the six new categories in the scheme that covers BPL families and certain unorganised sectors, such as domestic helpers and construction workers.

The note is expected be taken up by the Union Cabinet for clearance soon.

“While insurance premium for most of the new categories will be fully paid by the Government, taxi drivers and auto drivers would have to pay half the premium. The premium amount, though, would be small compared with the benefits,” Director-General, Labour Welfare, Anil Swarup, told Business Line.

The RSBY, launched in 2009, provides Rs 30,000 hospitalisation cover a year to a family of five.

Since the premium for the scheme averages around Rs 600 for a family, taxi drivers and auto drivers will need to pay around Rs 300 a year, in addition to the Rs 30 registration charges.

Interestingly, the Government had planned to include all six categories into the scheme as early as November 2011, but the idea was put on the back-burner.

However, with elections round the corner, this time things are expected to move smoothly.

FINANCIAL OUTGO

The financial outgo for inclusion of the new categories will depend upon the number of registrations that take place in all 26 States that are part of the scheme. The State Governments pay 25 per cent of the premium for beneficiaries, while the balance is contributed by the Centre.

“We have not had problems with funds till now. The Finance Ministry has always sanctioned us funds as per our need. Since additional money for the new categories will be required next fiscal, we have some time,” Swarup said.

In the on-going fiscal, the Ministry was sanctioned Rs 1,500 crore, up from Rs 300 crore the previous year.

With 34 million families already registered under the RSBY and the numbers growing, the fund requirement has been expanding.

SCHEME EXTENDED

Last year, the Government had extended the scheme to domestic workers, street vendors and beedi, workers but it has not yet been implemented in many States, including Delhi.

“The Delhi Government recently held a meeting with Residents’ Welfare Associations and hopefully registration would begin soon,” another Labour Ministry official said.

The RSBY has a total of about 4,500 empanelled private sector hospitals and 2,000 Government hospitals and has till now handled about 50 lakh hospitalisation cases.Auto-rickshaw-driver

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