THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s decision to wind up its Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme has left one lakh persons with disabilities (PwDs) in the lurch in the state.
The decision, in the backdrop of the rollout of the Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), was a bolt from the blue for the PwDs who were included in the scheme by the State Initiative on Disability (SID) under the Kerala State Social Security Mission (KSSM).
“We had enrolled a total of one lakh PwDs belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) category as beneficiaries for the said scheme. But we now get the intimation that the said scheme stands terminated in the backdrop of the AB-PMJAY,” said Manoj Kurian, state project coordinator, SID.
According to him, for the scheme, which was a joint collaboration of Department of Empowerment of PwDs and The New India Assurance Company, the state had already handed over an amount of Rs 3.57 crore.
“The premium for the said scheme was Rs 3,100. On March 2017 itself, we enrolled one lakh PwDs belonging to the BPL category and handed over an amount of Rs 3.57 crore as state’s contribution to the New India Assurance Company. But the Centre didn’t release its contribution and now it says that it is terminating the scheme,” said Manoj.
Earlier, answering a question by Anto Antony MP at the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Social Justice Krishanpal Gurjar said under the scheme 46,758 families with PwD members were enrolled nation-wide and a number of Rs 15 crore has been released to the New India Assurance Company. But as the newly launched AB-PMJAY also covers PwDs it has been decided to scrap the Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme.
The minister also added then that though the ministry received several representations demanding to reconsider the decision, it had made up its mind not to revive it. As per the data presented by the minister, the state had an enrolment of 4,721 families with PwD members.
KSSM executive director Mohammad Asheel said that though the state government had tried its best to persuade the ministry to revive the scheme, it remains adamant.
“The scheme might have been beneficial to a large number of PwDs. But in March they informed us that they are going to discontinue it. Since then the state government through representations had raised the demand of reviving the scheme,” said Asheel.
According to him, the ministry’s view that AB-PMJAY will cover the PwDs will not hold water as the guidelines of the said scheme might result in the exclusion of many. He further adds that AB-PMJAY could never become a substitute for the Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme.
Meanwhile, Social Justice Department sources said that to cater to the needs of PwDs it will explore the possibility of including them in the proposed Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhathi, that is likely to be rolled out in April 2019.
Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme was implemented as a pilot scheme under the erstwhile Trust Fund for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. The scheme envisaged an annual insurance coverage of Rs 2 lakh for the family of PwDs, covering those with blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation, and mental illness.
Rs 3.57-crore amount handed over by the state to the Centre for the scheme
The scheme all about
The Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme was a joint collaboration of Department of Empowerment of PwDs and The New India Assurance Company
The decision to wind up the scheme has left one lakh persons with disabilities (PwDs) in the lurch in the state
The Centre didn’t release its contribution and now it says that it is terminating the scheme
The scheme envisaged insurance coverage for the family of PwDs, covering those with blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation, etc.