Health care facilities for old age group in India are few and far in-between. While in developed nations, the amenities and options available to senior citizens are numerous; in the developing parts of the world, the opposite is true. Most elders tend to depend on their offspring when it comes to healthcare. Where children are absent, the role is fulfilled by other family members. This massive gap is slowly being filled by the government as even private firms have not leveraged it. The steps the authorities are taking are small but useful.
One such stride the government of the nation is considering is offering health insurance to citizens who have crossed the sixty-mark. Under the cover scheme, expenses that a senior citizen accumulates due to secondary or tertiary care are insured. The total amount that the insurance covers is one lakh rupees per year.
For the sake of better understanding, secondary health is defined as treatment provided by a specialist. For example, a 65-year-old woman is asked by her general physician to refer a gastrointestinal specialist in a better hospital for a cure. Then the care provided by the second doctor is considered as secondary. Tertiary health care is defined as any opinion or consultation taken from a third doctor or hospital after a reference from the primary and secondary centers.
The scheme proposed by the government has the following aspects:
• It will offer annual cover.
• It will be renewable every year.
• The treatment given under it will be cashless
• For individuals who come under the poverty line, the premium that needs to pair for the cover will be reduced by ninety percent. This step is particularly crucial because statistics show that there are over twenty million people who have crossed 60 years and come within the BPL section.
• The scheme will work in tandem with Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. The latter scheme offers a cover of rupees thirty thousand for a family on floater basis, and the senior citizen scheme will cover expenses over and above it. This is applicable only for people under the BPL. (Floater basis allows the assured sum to be used by a single individual in the family or many)
• For senior citizens come above BPL, the premium has to be paid by the individual.
• The scheme aims to link the insurance cover directly to bank accounts so that the sum can be directly transferred.
• A variant of the scheme is also under proposal. This variation allows for a one lakh health insurance cover for the complete family where one member is a senior citizen.
This scheme along with the life insurance cover and pension are the baby steps needed by the country to provide a safer and better lifestyle for the citizens. Clubbed with the insurance for accidental death and disability cover the three will offer pretty comprehensive protection to people, something that is direly needed. But we still need more safeguards in place for the old age group.