Capt Amarinder Singh rolls out own health scheme, will cover 76% Punjab population

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (third from left) launches Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana, Tuesday. (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)

The Congress government in Punjab Tuesday launched a mega health insurance scheme, clubbing the Centre s Ayushman Bharat Yojana with its own, to benefit 46 lakh families covering 76 per cent of the state s population.

The Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana incorporates the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), the Centre s health insurance scheme for the poor unveiled in September 2018 and kept on hold so far by the Punjab government.

Going by the last Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY would have covered 14.86 lakh families in the state, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said rolling out the scheme in Mohali on 75th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Eleven people from the district were handed over their e-cards, becoming the first beneficiaries of the scheme.

Like the original PMJAY, the Punjab government will provide cashless health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per year to the beneficiaries. The Centre and the state government will bear the cost of the annual premium for 14.86 lakh families in the ratio of 60:40. For the remaining 31 lakh beneficiaries, the Punjab government will bear the entire expense, an official statement issued later said.

The state government will shell out Rs 276 crore, or 83 per cent, of the annual premium of Rs 333 crore. The Centre will pay the remaining Rs 57 crore.

The scheme with 1,396 treatment packages will be implemented through over 450 empanelled hospitals, including 200 government hospitals. Surgical packages under the scheme also include pre-hospitalisation expenses for three days and for a 15-day post-hospitalisation period, the release said.

The chief minister said Punjab has become the first state to offer medical insurance for such a large proportion of its population. He said that it had taken his government several months to draw the road map for the implementation of a scheme that would extend over 76 per cent of its population, in sharp contrast to the 12 per cent that would have been covered under the Centre s PMJAY.

Similar schemes in other states cover only up to a mere 30 per cent of their population, he said.

Dedicating the scheme to Rajiv Gandhi, the CM said his government was committed to fulfilling the aspirations of the people through the vision of the country s youngest prime minister. He recalled Gandhi s role in sanctioning a Pepsi plant, the first multi-national project in Punjab.

I was then the Punjab Agriculture Minister and had submitted a proposal to the PMO for setting up this plant, which was vital for state s persification plans. I still remember how, exactly on the eighth day, I got a message that the PM wanted to meet me and the project was approved, he said.

Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu was also present at the event.