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Ahluwalia: health insurance should be made mandatory

Special Correspondent


Employer can exempt part contribution of premium

Apollo to open new hospitals in Tie-1 and Tier-2 cities


NEW DELHI: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Thursday pitched for making it mandatory for organised sector employers to take health insurance cover for employees asserting it would help spread the reach of insurance products.

Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-organised Health Insurance Summit here, Dr. Ahluwalia said: “There has to be a mandatory provision for providing group health insurance cover to all workers in the organised sector by their employers.”

“I think it is feasible. The government should give very serious consideration to making it mandatory for employers to get group insurance for their workers. We will never be able to spread health insurance for which people pay unless an element of incentive-cum-compulsion is introduced. If you leave it to people, only rich persons would buy and even middle-class would not go for it,” he added. Dr. Ahluwalia suggested that one of the incentives could be exempting the part contribution of health insurance premium for workers by the employer.

He said there was no point in creating public infrastructure that does not work properly and general public end up bearing the entire expenditure on getting a patient treated.

Asked about whether the private insurance companies should provide cashless health insurance cover, Dr. Ahluwalia said: “We cannot say that all private insurance companies must run cashless insurance.”

Admitting that the government's move of making mandatory health insurance cover for all organised worker would not be the only solution, he said “it is true that we cannot do it for self employed people, but government is running a Rashtriya Sawasthya Bima Yojana for them.”

Speaking at the summit, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Chairman J. Hari Narayan said the issue of cashless treatment facilities would be resolved soon. “The problem is with certain group of hospitals. I am hopeful it will be resolved soon,” he said.

Apollo Hospitals Chairman Prathap C. Reddy, while speaking at the summit, said it was planning to set up more hospitals and add nearly 3,000 beds over the next two years. He said “We plan to open new hospitals in different cities. There is also plan to expand capacity of the existing hospitals.”

Apollo Hospitals at present has 8,500 beds in 50 hospitals.

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