Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has turned his focus on restoring the health of his people by launching an ambitious health insurance project worth Rs 1,000 crore. He is personally pursuing the scheme and plans to seek the funds from the Centre to ensure that the project, which will cater to 2 crore citizens across the state, becomes feasible.
State health minister Suresh Shetty has undertaken the project with a mission, thus signaling that public health should be a social responsibility of the government and not left to the private sector alone.
"The biggest challenge is to mobilize funds to sustain the scheme," said a senior officer in the health department.
The state government plans to reach out to the Centre by asking for funds from the existing Rashtriya Swastha Bima Yogna (RSBY).
The state insurance scheme along with the RSBY would be merged under one banner to ensure steady flow of funds for public health care.
The government plans a steady start by launching the projects in eight districts. After gauging the response and implementation in these districts, it would be extended across the state in a phased manner with corrective steps.
Primary survey undertaken by the government shows that the public have extremely positive response to the insurance scheme whose premium would be paid entirely by the state government.
The scheme, which is primarily for individuals whose annual income does not exceed Rs 1 lakh (which means monthly income not exceeding Rs 8,300) would be further extended to a higher income group of up to Rs 5 lakh.
"The statistics of 2 crore families has been cited based on the data provided by the ministry of food and civil supplies. However, if there are some distortion in the data it would require correction," the officer admitted.
A source in the health ministry said: "The health sector expects a quantum jump in the allocations in the 2011-12 state budget. For several years we have been complaining about health budget not exceeding 3%. Despite health being high on the agenda, we could not effectively avail of the central funds because of lack of schemes that would also require allocations."
Gradually, the ministry plans to link the scheme with the ongoing unique identification card exercise to ensure every individual enrolled is alloted a health card.