Chief minister Arjun Munda hands over a smart card to Bishnu Das during the national seminar on Rashtryia Swasthya Beema Yojana in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Jharkhand has become the first state to offer medical insurance under the Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojana (RSBY) to bidi workers and street vendors, promising an annual coverage of Rs 30,000 for treatment in hospitals of their choice.
Chief minister Arjun Munda, accompanied by Union minister for labour and employment Mallikarjun Kharge and his Jharkhand counterpart Chandra Prakash Choudhary, distributed health cards among bidi workers at a three-day meet starting on Monday in the state capital.
Praising the Jharkhand government for extending the insurance scheme to the poorer sections of the society, Kharge said, “Jharkhand is the first state to provide insurance under RSBY to street vendors and bidi workers, while other states are still identifying beneficiaries.”
The number of street vendors, who fall in the unorganised sector, across the state is not known, while 1.1 lakh bidi workers are employed in Jharkhand.
The state government has already extended Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojana sops to beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as well as construction labourers and below poverty line (BPL) households.
Kharge, who arrived in Ranchi on Sunday, chaired the national meet on RSBY attended by senior labour officials from all the states, apart from executives of insurance companies that are co-ordinating with the governments to implement the scheme.
Labour and insurance officials will jointly review RSBY during the meet and chalk out ways to ensure maximum number of people avail of the scheme.
Health is wealth, Kharge cited, adding that the governments were strengthening the poor socially and economically by extending health insurance cover under the central scheme.
“True development cannot take place unless the poor are strengthened. With health cards in their pocket, a poor family now has the choice to visit any hospital, government or private, and seek medical facility up to Rs 30,000 in a year. People everywhere have appreciated this scheme of the government and they want that more poor be brought under it in future,” said Kharge, addressing the officials and insurance executives.
He pointed out that health cards had been distributed to 2.8 lakh poor families nationwide so far, while a population of nearly 13.5 crore had benefited from RSBY.
According to chief secretary S.K. Choudhary, who took part in the meet, around 15 lakh families have been given health cards in Jharkhand so far.
He added that the number of BPL families who were entitled to RSBY exceeded 25 lakh.
The chief minister admitted that the central scheme was very essential to provide succour to the poorer sections in Jharkhand, adding that health insurance to labourers was no less than offering wealth.
“If we can sensitise labourers so that they promptly visit hospitals whenever they fall ill, much of their health problems can be eradicated,” Munda said, asking officials to focus more on preventive measures than treatment.
Under RSBY, insurance is extended to five members — family head, spouse and three dependants.