Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kerala Pay Commission likely to explore possibilities of contributory health scheme

The 10th pay commission of Kerala, scheduled to begin its formal sitting soon, is likely to explore possibilities of enhancing health care coverage of government employees and pensioners. 

The pay commission chairman Justice C N Ramachandran Nair said the agency would consider a scheme similar to the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) that takes care of the needs of Central government employees but warned, "We have been asked to take into account the resource limitations of the state while making any recommendations''. 

Salary and pension benefits account for 70% of the state government's expenditure. "We will not be able to undertake any additional financial commitments unless collection of our sales and service taxes improve drastically. The government had estimated a tax collection of Rs 57,000 crore this year but a reality check indicates that it would be much less,'' said C P John, member of the state planning board. 

The introduction of insurance could be an option. Employees will have to contribute towards insurance premium, said a top official in the state panning board. "Even in the CGHS, employees will have to make a monthly contribution to fund health coverage. A portion of the retirement benefits also will have to be contributed for this," the official said. 

Various employees unions, however, are opposed to any contributory health care scheme since they fear it would cripple the reimbursement scheme, in which they get the entire cost incurred for treatment. 

According to a study based on the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data for 2006, each person in the state spends about Rs 4,150 per single episode of illness. By now this would have doubled said economist K K Hari Kurup, who currently works at the Government College, Kasaragod, and is a coordinator for the "hospital costing studies'' project launched by the state government. 

Source : Times of India

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