Government healthcare could be a big boon to 70-80% of EPFO pensioners who draw a monthly pension of less than Rs 1500.
The Union Ministry of Labour is in talks with the Health Department so that lakhs of eligible Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) subscribers can avail of healthcare benefits of the Union Government’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat Scheme (Modicare), according to Zee Business TV.
There has long been a demand for mediclaim for EPFO subscribers, and now relevant government departments are exploring whether Modicare can be utilised to meet this demand.
There is still need for clarity and speculation over who would be eligible to receive benefits of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. As per the Zee Business TV report, this will depend on the legal structure of the scheme.
The Central Board of Trustees of EPFO has not formally approved a proposal, but has said that it will depend on the category of the pension holder. The CBT is likely to discuss this further in its next meeting.
About 70-80% of pensioners draw less than Rs 1,500 a month. This is obviously not enough to handle medical expenses. If this move is sanctioned, it will be a major relief for almost 60-65 lakh pensioners in the country. Even if there is a pensioner who is not eligible for the scheme but draws a very small pension, the CBT will look into how to include them in the scheme.
Another aspect being explored is whether Employee Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) schemes can be used to extend Ayushman Bharat benefits to subscribers. Currently, under this service, employers deposit for their employees and this fund is used to provide a death claim of approximately Rs 6 lakh to next of kin.
Discussions are on to explore whether a small contribution or premium can be taken from pensioners to include them under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
As per EPFO data released in April this year, about 31 lakh new subscribers across age groups were added in the payroll during the period September 2017 to February 2018. Getting added health benefits will be a welcome move for all EPFO subscribers.