Amid spiking Covid-19 cases across the country and an overwhelmed healthcare system, the government’s special insurance for frontline healthcare workers of the country fighting the pandemic has lapsed.
The insurance cover for frontline healthcare workers that had promised to give Rs 50 lakh to the family of those who died of Covid-19 while on duty lapsed on March 24 this year. The Union government had announced the insurance scheme on March 26 last year, two days after the imposition of the nationwide lockdown.
Meanwhile, no fresh insurance cover is currently active for the healthcare workers fighting the pandemic with a risk to their lives even as the government discusses a fresh policy. Moreover, as the second wave of the pandemic hits India hard, reports of doctors and other healthcare workers dying of the coronavirus infection have become frequent.
The lapsing of the scheme came to light only on Sunday after a letter dated March 24 and sent by Rajesh Bhushan, secretary of the Union Health Ministry’s National Health Mission, to chief secretaries of states and union territories, emerged on social media.
The letter states that the insurance for health workers fighting Covid-19, which was announced under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, ended on March 24, 2021. It adds that those eligible for the insurance up to that date would be given time till April 24 to submit their claims.
Following this, the Union Health Ministry on Monday announced that all claims of "COVID warriors" under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package will be settled till April 24 after which a fresh insurance policy for them will become effective, the PTI reported.
In a tweet, the Health Ministry said that a new dispensation will be provided to cover the "corona warriors" and the Ministry is still in talks with the New India Assurance for the same. However, an official date for the fresh policy is not mentioned.
News reports over the insurance lapse sparked outrage on social media with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slamming the government over it.
Rahul Gandhi on Monday said in a tweet, "Government of India (GOI), you are utterly ungrateful," while citing a media report saying that India's health workers are left without government insurance cover as the second wave of COVID-19 hits the country.
While the series of tweets by the Health Ministry did not mention the numbers of healthcare workers who died working on the frontline, they said that 287 claims have been paid by the insurance company so far.
“The scheme has played a crucial psychological role in boosting the morale of the health workers fighting COVID-19," the ministry said in the statement.
Since being announced in Mach last year, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package(PMGKP) was extended thrice till April 24, the Ministry said.