Failure to identify poor affects plan

  • health insurance
- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Jan 25, 2017-The Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation (MoCPA)’s failure to distribute poverty ID cards to the poor has affected the ongoing health insurance programme. 

Speaking at a meeting called by Women, Children, Elderly citizen and Social Welfare Committee of the Parliament, officials and parliamentarians said the for the effective implementation of the health insurance programme, the poor should be first identified and given poverty ID cards. 

“People enrolled for health insurance programme so far have done so voluntarily,” said Dr Guna Raj Lohani, executive director of Social Health Security Development Committee of the government. 

The government, however, has not been able to spend the money allocate for insurance programme as the concerned ministry is yet to distribute the ID cards which categorise the impoverished people as “too poor”, “poor” and “marginalised”.

According to Rule 11 of the Social Health Security Programme (Operating) Regulations, 2015, the government will waive the premium fees for persons with the identification cards issued by the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation. 

The regulation states that it will waive Rs 2,500 in premium for people identified as “too poor”. While 75 percent of the premium will be waived for those identified as “poor”, “marginalised” will get 50 percent waiver in the premium. But for this to happen, the ministry has to issue identity cards first. 

“We have identified around 356,000 poor households,” said Raghu Ram Bista, spokesperson for the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation. “But releasing the information without any prior homework would be disastrous. The government should first be ready to cope up with additional demands that might arise from poor households,” Bista added. 

The government on May 14 began the health insurance programme from Kailali and expanded it to Baglung and Ilam and then to Achham, Baitadi, Kaski, Myagdi, Palpa districts later. 

Under the current health insurance programme, a household of five has to pay an annual premium of Rs 2,500. For each additional member, Rs 425 the family needs to pay Rs 425. Under this insurance scheme, each household can avail itself of health services worth up to Rs 50,000.

As of January 22 this year, 47,734 have enrolled themselves for the health insurance programme.

Ranju Jha, chairperson of the parliamentary committee, said the House panel will soon hold meetings with Minister for Cooperative and Poverty Alleviation Hridayaram Thani to discuss the issue. 

“This is an essential programme of the government which protects the poor from falling further into poverty due to costs incurred in healthcare,” said Jha.    

In the meeting, parliamentarians also urged the government to focus the national health insurance programme in rural parts of the country and upgrade health services at health facilities where the programme is being implemented.

Published: 25-01-2017 08:10

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