Universal health insurance
The government is planning to roll out a universal health insurance. Picture: A nurse tends to a woman at Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) hospital in Bilaspur on 13 November, 2014.Reuters

The Narendra Modi government is reportedly planning to roll out a universal health insurance plan that would give a "seamless solution" to the cashless health schemes currently offered by the states.

Under the proposed plan, the Centre will integrate states' health schemes with its direct benefits transfer (DBT) platform. The government is already in discussions with states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat that offer cashless health insurance.

"Encouraged by the success of the social security schemes launched earlier this year, we are now looking at products in the health insurance sector by ensuring access. We are discussing it with states," a government official told Business Standard.

The main idea behind the universal health insurance is to bring all the cashless health schemes of the Centre and the states under one umbrella.

"We are building a DBT platform. Under that, we will provide SMS and phone call notifications on money transfers. Besides, we are building a web or smartphone app. Once the architecture is ready, we load health insurance on to it," said the official.

The health insurance application would be made available on this platform, which would be another step towards attaining a "completely cashless digital economy," he added.

The government will ask the states to use the central government's facilities such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and the subsidy payment platform for effective transfer of benefits of the health schemes. This will ensure the elimination of intermediaries and will assist in direct transfer of funds.

Payment of health subsidies under DBT will be assisted by the public financial management system (PFMS) and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

"Many states are providing cashless health insurance. If they give us the list of beneficiaries, they could plug into the DBT platform; that will facilitate accessibility and payment," said the official.

Currently, Tamil Nadu is providing health insurance for the low income group under the Chief Minister's Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme and the state has tied with United India Insurance Company to run the scheme. Tamil Nadu also offers cashless treatment to state government employees under New Health Insurance Scheme.

Similarly, Karnataka is running Yeshasvini Health Insurance Scheme for both rural and urban population apart from providing Jyothi Sanjeevini Scheme, a health insurance cover for government employees.

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