After the Furore, the Rs50 Lakh Insurance Policy for Healthcare Workers Is Resumed
After facing a backlash on social media about not doing anything on the expired Rs50 lakh insurance cover for doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, the Indian government decided to resume the same policy from 20 April 2021. However, there is no word in the notification about what happens to the insurance protection during the period from 24th March, when the policy expired, and 20 April 2021, when it is resumed.
In a tweet message, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for health & family welfare (MoHFW) says, "During the Corona virus pandemic, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) has provided a safety net to the dependents of Corona Warriors, who lost their lives to COVID19. I am glad to announce that this scheme has now been extended for a period of one year with effect from today."
In a letter sent to New India Assurance Co Ltd, S Nayak, deputy secretary in the MoHFW, says, "I am directed to refer to your letter No DGM SECTT/DROI/2021-22 dated 20-04-2021 on the subject cited above and to state that the proposal has been considered by this ministry and has been accepted. You are requested to resume the scheme with immediate effect i.e., from today. The funds shall be released as soon as possible."
After an outage on social media, on 18 April 2021, the MoHFW clarified that it was in talks with New India Assurance to provide insurance cover to 'Corona Warriors.'
The New India Assurance proposal referred by the ministry in its sanction letter clearly states that the proposal was dated 20 April 2021. This means, after issuing the clarification, the health ministry would have asked the insurer to send in a proposal for the Rs50 lakh insurance cover for healthcare workers. MoHFW received the proposal dated 20th April and accepted it on the same day.
However, the sanction letter fails to mention anything on the status of the Rs50 lakh insurance cover between 24th March and 20 April 2021 for reasons best known to them. This, in other words mean, for any unfortunate incident that happened during this period, the healthcare workers were without any protection.
Rajesh Bhushan, secretary of MoHFW, in a letter dated 24 March 2021, to chief secretaries and administrators to all states and Union territories (UTs), stated, "As the duration of the insurance policy is coming to an end on 24 March 2021, all the claims till the midnight of 24th March would be eligible for coverage under the scheme. Further, it has been decided to provide one month's window up to 24 April 2021 for final submission of all the eligible claims to the insurance company along with the requisite supporting documents."
This, in other words, means, from 24th March to 20 April 2021, the 'Corona Warriors' are devoid of any insurance cover.
In a series of tweets, the MoHFW came forward to justify its decision. It says, "The scheme has played a crucial psychological role in boosting the morale of the health workers fighting COVID-19. This has provided a safety net to the dependents of Corona warriors who lost their lives to COVID-19 and 287 claims have been paid by the insurance company so far."
Over the past one year, as many as 734 doctors, who were the frontline 'Corona Warriors', have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Rs50 lakh insurance may not compensate for the loss, but it was providing some monetary relief to the families of the deceased Corona Warriors.
In Maharashtra alone, as many as 18,000 doctors have contracted COVID-19, out of which 168 have died, according to information shared by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
According to the data released by MoHFW, over the past 24 hours, India has reported 295,041 new cases, the highest single-day spike ever, pushing the country's overall COVID-19 tally to over 156 million.
In the same time span, India also reported a record number of 2,023 deaths. The daily deaths crossed 2,000 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic last year, taking the total death toll so far in the country to 182,553. India had reported 1,761 deaths on Tuesday.