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health insurance options for low-income individuals
Mar 20, 2023

Health Insurance For People Below Poverty Line: What Are The Options Available?

If you are an earning individual, you may have had the chance to consider health insurance for yourself and your family. Even if you are not in the earning phase yet, you may have a health cover that extends to you from your family. But what is health insurance? Health insurance is a contract between the policyholder and the insurance provider. Here, the policyholder chooses the policy and pays the premium. In return, the insurance provider offers a health cover which protects the policyholder from financial burden in case of a health event. This is what health insurance is. If you look for these plans online, or speak to your insurance provider, you may find that premiums for these plans can be quite high. Thus, it is possible that most of these plans may be out of reach for families living below the poverty line.

Health Insurance Policies for Below Poverty Line (BPL) Individuals

People below poverty line may not be able to afford any mainstream insurance plans offered by private players. However, that does not mean that they have to survive without any form of medical insurance. The Government of India, over the years, has launched an array of schemes to allow people living below poverty line to benefit from it. Here is a look at some of the policies available today in India that people below poverty line may be able to get for themselves as well as their families.

1. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana

Abbreviated as RSBY, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana is an initiative of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India. It is aimed solely at giving coverage to people below poverty line. The scheme offers a cover of up to ₹30,000 for its beneficiaries, covering a host of diseases that require hospitalisation. There is no age limit for this scheme. Moreover, pre-existing diseases are covered under this policy without a waiting period. To register for this policy, the individual may be required to provide their BPL card. A registration fee of ₹30 is charged. You can enrol up to five members of your family in this policy including yourself, your spouse, and up to three dependents. The insurance provider for the scheme is chosen on the basis of competitive bidding.

2. PM-JAY (Ayushman Bharat)

The initial goal of launching Ayushman Bharat was taking a significant step towards the Sustainable Development Goal-3 (SDG-3), the commitment of which is ‘leave no one behind’. A flagship scheme of the Government of India under the recommendation of the National Health Policy 2017, it was launched in late 2018. There are two components introduced under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. The first is establishing health and wellness centres across the country. The second is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, also known as the PM-JAY. This component of the Ayushman Bharat yojana is meant to offer “Swasthya Suraksha”. It is claimed to be one of the largest health assurance schemes globally. The goal is to provide a cover of up to ₹5 lakhs per annum per family. This is meant specifically for families belonging to poor and vulnerable groups. It is said to be a more contemporary version of RSBY.

3. Employees’ State Insurance Scheme

Also known as ESIS, the policy is another one of the offerings of the Government of India. This offers coverage for employees of non-seasonal factories. To benefit from this coverage, the factory strength should be more than 10 employees. The coverage is offered to employees as well as their dependents. You can get coverage for hospitalisation costs. Furthermore, if you or a dependent were to encounter disability, you may also be able to claim cash benefits. Coverage extends in the form of death benefits as well, where if the factory employee were to pass away, a pay-out may be offered to their beneficiary along with a regular pension.

4. Universal Health Insurance Scheme

Under UHIS (or Universal Health Insurance Scheme), which is also a medical insurance policy offered by the Government of India, reimbursements of up to ₹30,000 are offered in case of hospitalisation. This cover is floated amongst the entire family covered by the plan. Additionally, an accidental death cover of ₹25,000 is offered for the provider of the family. The scheme is geared specifically towards BPL families. The premium for this scheme can range between ₹100 to ₹400. These are some of the health schemes available for people living below the poverty line. If you look for online health insurance plans by private players, you may see that they may be financially unfeasible for most BPL families. Thus, instead of looking for online health insurance plans, they should opt for these policies that may help them get coverage and protect their families against health emergencies.   * Standard T&C Apply ** Tax benefits are subject to change in prevalent tax laws. Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. For more details on benefits, exclusions, limitations, terms, and conditions, please read the sales brochure/policy wording carefully before concluding a sale.

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