GUWAHATI, Aug 23 - Octogenarian insurance expert Kallol Kumar Dutta has requested Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to claim credit for both the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and the National Digital Health Mission. This is necessary, he argued, as both the initiatives are products of the suggestions made by him through a letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on August 20, 2014.
Talking to this correspondent, Dutta said the State needs this recognition to bring the NE to the forefront of the Indian nation building discourse as a contributor.
Dutta, a former regional manager of the National Insurance Company, is now the Director of the Insurance Academy�North East (INSAC-ne). He said he had sent the letter to Harsh Vardhan with a detailed analysis of his proposed �Universal Health Insurance Project.� In his letter, he suggested that a universal health insurance policy be adopted by the Union Government as the self-insurer, covering the entire population of the country. This should have the provision of direct premium contribution from the beneficiaries, for reimbursement of the hospitalisation expenses. However, he said there should a premium holiday for the Below Poverty Line (BPL) people.
In the entire scheme, all State and Union Territory Governments should be made co-insurers and they should work jointly with the Union Government for the successful implementation of the scheme, Dutta had said in his letter.
Following his letter, Dutta said, quoting newspaper reports, the Health Minister held a discussion with representatives of the State Governments and the Union Territories on October 8, 2014 on adopting a national health insurance scheme.
Subsequent to that, the Ayushman Bharat Yojana was introduced to cover indoor treatment costs of hospitalised BPL citizens to the tune of Rs 2 lakh per head, on a premium of Rs 100 per head per annum. Dutta made it clear that he had suggested a premium holiday for this category of people and he had suggested collection of premium only from the rest of the citizens at the rate of Rs 500 per head per annum, for covering a family of four persons, to provide them the indoor treatment costs in the hospitals in a year�s time.
On August 15 this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced a National Digital Health Mission for 45 crore non-poor people, who are not covered by any government or private insurance schemes, on a �self-pay� basis. This is also purely in line with the suggestions made by Dutta. This mission, or, policy seems to be an extension of the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. This is a well thought-out initiative and it deserves praise, Dutta said.
On the ground for the State claiming credit for both the health insurance initiatives, Dutta said that his institution INSAC-ne, which is engaged in spreading insurance literacy and in creating employability in the insurance sector through skill development, is a part of the State Government by way of its becoming the strategic partner of the Employment Generation Mission (EGM), Assam. The EGM, Assam has been rechristened as the Assam Skill Development Mission (ASDM).