Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on March 26, announced a Rs 50 lakh insurance cover per person for frontline health workers involved in managing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
"The medical insurance scheme would include sanitation staff, doctors, Asha workers, paramedics and nurses. These professionals are not considering their own health risks and have been attending to Coronavirus patients," she added.
A government document said that any health professional who while treating COVID-19 patients meets with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme.
Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health would be covered by this special insurance scheme.
All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of Centre as well as States would be covered under this scheme approximately 22 lakh health workers would be provided insurance cover to fight this pandemic.
Here, Asha workers refer to community health worker instituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as a part of the National Rural Health Mission.
Frontline workers working across hospitals with COVID-19 positive patients are the most at risk of contracting the illness. The Rs 50 lakh cover per person is expected to benefit such individuals and will help them in case they are exposed to the virus.
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It is likely that any of these health workers diagnosed as COVID-19 positive will be eligible to get claims under the Rs 50 lakh insurance cover. Claims settlement is also expected to be instant in case any individual faces any untoward accident during the treatment process.
This is part of a slew of measures announced by the finance minister under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package on March 26 to deal for health workers, labourers, people below the poverty line and daily-wage earners under the scheme.
This is to help economically and socially disadvantaged communities to tide over the COVID-19 crisis where companies have announced a lockdown to prevent the virus spread.
While the modalities are yet to be announced, it is announced that any health workers who is currently working across the hospitals in India will get access to the Rs 50 lakh cover. The government will bear the premium costs.
India has 649 reported positive COVID-19 cases so far with 13 deaths. In Delhi, a Mohalla clinic doctor has tested positive after which 800 people were quarantined.
The government has already clarified that COVID-19 related hospitalisation expenses will be covered under the Ayushman Bharat scheme which provides Rs 5 lakh of medical cover per family per year. This scheme covers deprived families in rural and urban areas.