The senior citizens need to be cared for and the society and nation owes them a decent life in their old age. Keeping these sentiments, the Indian Government of India, has introduced several benefits through its various schemes in for senior citizens. One amongst such schemes includes health insurance policy.
The schemes and policies are meant to promote the health, well-being and independence of senior citizens across the country. With numerous tax benefits, travel and healthcare facilities exclusively designed and provisioned for them, Indian Government has created sufficient reasons for Senior Citizens to feel satisfied and elated. The central government of India came out with the National Policy for Older Persons (or Elderly Individuals) in 1999. These guidelines aim to encourage individuals to facilitate provisions for self as well as their spouse’s old age. It also strives to encourage families to take special care of their elderly family members who are often dependant on the bread-winners in the family. This policy has been designed to enable and support voluntary and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) to supplement the care rendered by the family and provide care and protection to these vulnerable lot. Healthcare, creation of awareness, training facilities to geriatric caregivers/service providers and healthcare research have also been looked into and implemented under this policy. The main purpose of this policy is to make elderly people fully independent citizens.
National Policy for Older Persons has resulted in the launch of new schemes listed below:-
► Strengthening of primary healthcare system in order to fulfill the requirements pertaining to healthcare needs of elderly.
► Provision for separate queues and reservation of beds for elderly patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
► Imparting necessary training and orientation programs designed for medical and paramedical personnel in Geriatric care. Assistance to societies for production and distribution of materials related to geriatric care.
► Promotion of the concept of healthy ageing process, preventive healthcare aspects and well-being of Senior Citizens.
► Extended coverage under the Antyodaya Scheme with special emphasis on provision of food at subsidized rates for the Senior Citizens especially the destitute and marginalized sections of Indian Society.
"The Integrated Programme for Older Persons" is a scheme that provides financial assistance up to 90 per cent of the project costs to non-governmental organizations or NGOs involved in their care. This money is used to establish and maintain old age homes, day-care centres, and mobile medicare units as well as to provide non-institutional services to elderly individuals. The scheme also incorporates other requirements of elderly citizens such as reinforcing and strengthening the family bonds, generation of awareness on family related issues and facilitating productive ageing.
Another important program introduced by the Government of India is the Scheme of Assistance to Panchayati Raj Institutions, voluntary organizations and Self-Help Groups for the construction of Old-Age Homes and Multi-Service Centres for Senior Citizens. This scheme provides a one-time construction grant.
Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) provides pensioners or retired employees of central government various healthcare facilities for availing treatment and obtaining medicines for chronic (or long-standing) ailments up to three months at a stretch. The National Mental Health Program focuses on the needs of elderly individuals who are affected with Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Depression, Psycho-somatic disorder and Psycho-Geriatric ailments.
The journey towards financial security does not end here. The Central Government of India is constantly in the process of evolving and rolling-out of newer plans and schemes to benefit senior citizens across the country. In the 2007-08 Budget, the Finance Minister had proposed to provide monthly income to seniors and develop new healthcare insurance schemes.
For the benefits of senior citizens various schemes have been introduced that includes:
► The National Housing Bank - has introduced a 'reverse mortgage' scheme under which a senior citizen owning a house in India can avail of a steady monthly stream of income against mortgage of the house. The senior citizen remains the legal owner and occupies the house throughout his or her lifetime, without repayment of the loan. Regulations are to be initiated for creation of mortgage guarantee companies.
► Exclusive health insurance schemes for senior citizens offered by select Insurance Companies.
► The Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill of 2007 - This bill facilitates care for the maintenance of aged parents, establishment of old homes, provision of medical care and protection of life and property of senior citizens.
These new developments concerning senior citizens are meant to get such individuals on the path to a better, peaceful, stable, financially sound and secured life.