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Health insurance cover for farmers soon

By Y. Mallikarjun

HYDERABAD, OCT. 29. The State Government is finalising modalities to launch within 15 days a comprehensive health insurance scheme covering all farmers, agricultural labourers and the families living below the poverty line.

The scheme will cover patients suffering from all major ailments and hospitalisation expenses. "We are in a dialogue with important insurance companies," M.V. Subba Rao, Principal Secretary, Health, Medical and Family Welfare, told The Hindu here on Thursday. The Karnataka and Maharashtra patterns, in which a tie-up was reached with the cooperatives, were also being studied.

Scheme for poor

A well-designed health insurance programme would be put in place to support poor families as a study had revealed that 65 per cent of the rural poor in the State borrowed money to meet hospitalisation expenditure leading to a high level of indebtedness among them. Though an insurance scheme linked to family welfare was launched in 1998, its coverage was limited, he added.

It was being examined whether to have a single "omnibus package" for the entire family or sub-packages for maternal care and children. "We will come out with a comprehensive policy in another 10-15 days covering all major ailments". The plan was to include HIV and AIDS too by adopting a "non-exclusionary approach" he said and added that the insurance companies would be persuaded in this matter.

It was not advisable to deprive the poor of certain benefits when the scheme was intended to make available effective medicare to them. He said the feasibility of linking the micro-financing activities with micro-insurance was also being looked into.

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