Why are PwD not accessing Government Schemes in Goa?
A while back, a prominent daily carried a story that an astonishingly few number of People with Disabilities (PwDs) were accessing government schemes. Strange, because even a State like Goa should has a sizable number of PwD. According to the WHO about 7-10% of the population in a developing country is affected with some kind of disability. Since Goa could easily fit into the ‘developed’ category we could safely conclude that about 5-7% of its population could have a disability. Of course, it is also important to remember that the WHO uses a much broader definition as that used in The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. If we go by the WHO figures that would mean in a population of 1.4 million there would be anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 PwDs in the State. Now that’s a rather substantial number wouldn’t you say? and yet the poor response to Government schemes.
The answer perhaps lies in the widespread ignorance about schemes offered by the Department of Social Welfare in Goa and national agencies like the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the National Trust. It is about time that we in Goa got a bit sensitized, one to the issue of ‘Disability’, because PwDs live in our neighborhood and community, if only we’d care to see them, and secondly because States like Goa with a highly educated and sensitized population have much to contribute to taking the disability movement further.
Nationally there is much enthusiasm about a health insurance scheme called Niramaya, which had been launched on the 6th of March 08 by the National Trust and was initially meant for select poverty ridden districts of the country but has recently been expanded to all of India. A first of its kind the Niramaya scheme is specifically meant for the much neglected people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities. It has been much hailed by parents and people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities who have been until now struggling to meet mounting medical bills and have had a long standing demand for government medical assistance.
About the scheme
As the objectives of the Niramaya scheme state, it hopes “to improve the general health condition and quality of life of persons with disability” and all age groups are covered by the scheme. The Niramaya scheme is applicable to all including children and the unemployed and offers equal coverage to all the disabilities mentioned above.
The Nodal Agency appointed by the National Trust, to implement the Niramaya scheme in all States across the country except J&K is Chennai based ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd. Under this scheme, a health insurance cover is provided by ICICI Lombard, a General Insurance Company to people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.
Under the Niramaya scheme, insurance is available for up to Rs 1 lakh for an annual premium of Rs 250 and is free for persons with family income of Rs.15000 per annum and below eg BPL families. To get the benefits of the Niramaya scheme, a beneficiary has to enroll for the same by filling up a form that can be downloaded from http://thenationaltrust.in/NiramayaEnrollment.pdf or by asking ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd. to email it to you.
A person with an income of more than Rs.15000/- per annum, has to remit a processing fee of Rs.250/-to the National Trust to join the scheme. The fee can be remitted in any branch of the State Bank of India towards a/c no.30396764585 at K.G.Marg, New Delhi, favoring ‘National Trust ‘NIRAMAYA’.
The enrolment form has to be sent to ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd., Chennai along with two photographs with the name of the applicant written on the reverse, a photocopy of the disability certificate, counter foil of the bank paying-in slip for having remitted Rs.250/-to the account of the National Trust and if the family is BPL, a certificate indicating the monthly income of the family. After which an identity card is issued to the applicant. The time taken to get the identity card is approximately two month’s.
How to benefit from the scheme
For treatment in a hospital or nursing home as an in-patient, the beneficiary has to produce the id card to the hospital authorities and if the hospital is one among the network of hospitals then the treatment will be offered on a ‘cashless basis’. The hospital will seek a reimbursement for the hospitalization expenses directly from the insurer.
The scheme reimburses services such as regular medical checkups, cashless hospitalization, therapy, corrective surgery, transportation, conditions requiring repetitive medical intervention as an in-patient and pre and post hospitalization expenses, subject to limits.
While cashless hospitalization facility is available in the network hospitals, for using hospitals and medical facilities not in the network, the patient first has to bear the hospitalization expense and then file claim with the insurance company for reimbursement of expenses. The claim papers should be sent to the ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd office in Chennai. There is also a procedure by which hospitals and medical facilities not in the network can join it by filing up forms and furnishing certain details, for more information download the Niramaya scheme details from the National Trust website.
In case of treatment as an out-patient, the beneficiary has to bear the expenses and after completion of the out-patient treatment can file a claim for reimbursement. In case of such out-patient treatment the claim papers along with the bills towards treatment expenses, doctor’s fee, pharmacy bills, etc., have to be submitted to ALEgION Insurance Broking Ltd. for processing.
Even though all PwD mentioned above are eligible and there will be no selection, it is reliably believed that the scheme will be operating on a first-come-first-served basis. It would therefore be advantageous to enroll early.
So come on people, if you know families or people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities please let them know about the tell Niramaya Scheme and encourage them to apply for it at the earliest.
Addresses that may help you
Dr.T V Ramesh
Business Head - Rural
ALEgION INSURANCE BROKING LTD
117, St. Ebbas Avenue, P.S. Sivaswamy
Salai, Mylapore, Chennai 600004.
Phone: 044 - 24980152 / 97899 82257
9th Floor, Jeevan Prakash Building, 25,
Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110 001
Phone: 011- 23766898, 43520861,
Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.in / http://www.thenationaltrust.in/
This article was published in the Herald, Goa, on 14th October (Tuesday) 2008