The union government extended its health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), on Wednesday to cover migrant workers across states who were affected due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This move is to guarantee healthcare protection for migrant workers who lost their jobs and other livelihoods throughout the country.
The AB-PMJAY implementation agency, the National Health Authority (NHA), is coordinating with the states to identify eligible recipients under the scheme. The NHA also offered to provide the eligible migrants with e-cards.
AB-PMJAY provides the treatment of more than 10.74 crore poor and needy families (about 53 crore beneficiary) in the secondary and tertiary care hospitals of up to 5 lakhs per family per year. All recipients and migrants can easily access their cards anywhere online.
Chief executive officer (CEO) of AB-PMJAY and NHA Dr Indu Bhushan said, "NHA is actively supporting and coordinating with states wherein migrant labourers are returning. We aim to ensure that all the eligible migrant workers receive e-cards so that they can access treatment at any of the empanelled hospitals across the country."
He added that at least 80 per cent of the 10.84 crore beneficiary families under PMJAY are from rural India, "We are using this opportunity to sensitise the returning migrant workers about the benefits of Ayushman Bharat, particularly about the portability feature of the scheme. Further, we are working with States in empanelling more hospitals and labs, and mobilising the existing hospitals to provide COVID and non-COVID treatments to our beneficiaries."
Head of Population Research Centre, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University, Dr Suresh Sharma said, "If we look from the viewpoint of the health aspect, the exposure and status of infection of the migrant labours is unknown and if infected, will have serious repercussions."
He further added, "This crisis definitely gives an opportunity to both, the central and respective state governments, to transform and improve the weak health system. Just like the central government focusses on the defence perspective, the same way the health perspective should be given equal weightage in times of future pandemics."