New Delhi, June 21: Victims of road accidents can no longer be turned away by hospitals for not carrying enough cash.
Under a central project aimed at reducing the number of casualties — many die because of lack of immediate critical care — victims will get cashless treatment for the first 48 hours after the accident.
Insurance companies will pick up the tab for the treatment, according to the project to be launched by the road transport and highways ministry. After 48 hours, the victim will be treated at discounted rates, to be worked out with state governments.
If the total treatment cost does not exceed Rs 30,000, the victims or their relatives don’t have to pay anything out of their pockets. If it exceeds the cap, they have to pay the balance. The cashless facility will extend to even those who have an insurance policy.
Hospitals will be allowed to charge only rates prescribed under the Central Government Health Scheme or those prescribed by AIIMS.
The ministry has chosen a 110km stretch between Amritsar and Pathankot on NH15 to roll out the first pilot project for the scheme. It will carry out five other studies before launching the project across India. “We are working on this pilot project in Punjab since this stretch sees a high number of accidents. The pilot project will start in a few months,” joint secretary Nitin R. Gokarn said.
According to all-India figures for last year, about 1.34 lakh persons died in road accidents while 6 lakh were injured.
Under the project, the financial assistance to the victims will be provided essentially by the Calcutta-headquartered National Insurance Company. Insurance firms can recover the money from the errant vehicle’s insurance.
“Insurance firms are bleeding because of the high number of accidents. With this project, we are essentially trying to bring down the number of deaths and also the liability on insurance firms,” said a ministry source.
The ministry has directed the National Highways Authority of India to put up signboards at every 100 metres of NH15. The signboards will display emergency contact numbers and a unique reference number to identify the exact accident spot. A call centre, dedicated for this stretch, will be set up.