Two months ago, 58-year-old Gurnek Singh, a small farmer in Kaddonvillage in Punjab's Ludhiana district, should have been a worriedman. Diagnosed with clogged arteries he was advised to undergo anurgent angioplasty, an operation he would normally not be able toafford.
But today, after a week-long treatment in a private hospital lastmonth, Gurnek is happy as he didn't have to foot any part of the Rs1.86-lakh bill. 'I owe the fresh lease of life to this card,' he saysflashing a laminated membership card of Sanjivni, a novel ruralhealth insurance scheme which is becoming increasingly popular inPunjab. The tailor-made scheme, run under the aegis of a PunjabGovernment-patronised trust in conjunction with an insurance company,a third party insurance administrator and select hospitals, is thefirst of its kind in providing cost-effective quality healthcare tofarmers.
Launched in April this year through 4,000-odd rural cooperativesocieties, Sanjivni has already covered nearly 5.73 lakh farmers andtheir families. Any cooperative member aged up to 75 years can jointhe scheme by paying a fixed annual premium of Rs 300 and availmedical treatment costing up to Rs 2 lakh a year from 150 governmentand private hospitals across the state. Primary member's dependentshave to pay a nominal add-on premium of Rs 30 to get a similar healthcover.
'It's the perfect example of public-private partnership in makingsecondary and tertiary healthcare accessible to the rural masses,'says Kahn Singh Pannu, secretary of Punjab Farmers Commission and thekey architect of Sanjivni. In the past three months alone, 1,800members have availed medical treatment worth Rs 3 crore under thisscheme.
What has made Sanjivni so coveted is its distinct advantage overother group insurance schemes. 'It's a revolutionary scheme in thesense that it ensures cashless treatment,' says Viswajit Khanna,registrar, cooperatives. Sanjivni also covers pre-existing ailments,up to two pregnancies and procedures like chemotherapy and dialysiswhich do not need hospitalisation but are expensive.
The trust plans to expand the scheme to urban areas as well. Ithas even made a presentation to state Chief Minister Amarinder Singhto this effect. Clearly, Sanjivni has lived up to its name and becomea life saver in rural Punjab.