The proposal moved by corporators to increase health insurance cover of elderly people belonging to economically weaker section has been shot down by the Mahesh Pathak-led PMC administration, citing shortage of funds.
The proposal was tabled by Deputy Mayor Deepak Mankar before the Women and Child Welfare Committee. “It is impossible for poor old people to pay the increased hospital bills. Thus, the PMC should provide health insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh to poor people who are above 80 years,” he said.
The committee referred the proposal to the administration for its opinion. The administration last week gave its decision against such a facility. The PMC provides financial assistance of maximum up to Rs 1 lakh to urban poor earning less than Rs 1 lakh per annum. However, the benefit of financial assistance is restricted to 50 per cent of the hospital bill and maximum up to Rs 1 lakh.
Mankar said in many cases, the financial assistance offered by the PMC is falling short for the elderly patients taking treatment in various city hospitals and they cannot raise the remaining amount. “Therefore, it would be better to increase the assistance from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.”
In its response, the civic administration said 5,570 people had registered under the scheme in 2011-12, of which 4,678 availed of the scheme. The PMC sanctioned funds of Rs 4 crore from the budgetary allocation of Rs 7 crore for the scheme.
In 2012-13, 4,500 people have got registered so far under the scheme and 3,500 of them have availed of the benefit. The PMC has sanctioned Rs 7.55 crore from the budgetary allocation of Rs 9 crore till date. There is a balance of Rs 1.45 crore but it seems that there is going to be a shortage of funds for providing benefit to all the claimants, said a PMC official.
“If the population of old people above 80 years is taken into consideration and the financial assistance is increased to Rs 2 lakh, the PMC is likely to face additional financial burden. Therefore, we are of the opinion that there should not be an increase in the financial assistance for elderly people in the health scheme,” said Naresh Zurmure, additional municipal commissioner.
The administration had recently shot down corporators’ demand of increasing eligibility criteria for beneficiaries from a maximum annual income of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2