The government-sponsored Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is slowly being phased out with strong murmurs that the stage is being set for the touted universal health insurance scheme.
While there were expectations that a beta version of the scheme would be announced during the Independence Day speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the officials are still ironing out the final features of the scheme.
“The final contours of the scheme are being readied and the announcement should happen in the next 6-8 months,” said a senior government official. With this, there is no rush for tenders to get renewals for RSBY scheme in states.
RSBY works on tenders where the insurance company quoting the lowest amount for a state wins the process and stays as the insurer for one year. After that, it has to be renewed following a similar process. Sources said that there have hardly been one to two tenders in the last 18 months even as many RSBY schemes neared completion of a year.
The initial proposals have talked about a premium of Rs 80-120 while the rest could be subsidised by the government. However, it is not clear whether all insurers will be eligible for the scheme since the plan is to promote the scheme through bank account direct debit of premium.
Also, features for hospital cash benefit as well as riders may be available at a higher premium.
RSBY scheme was launched in 2008 for Below Poverty Line (BPL) households but has been expanded to cover other defined categories of unorganised workers. The beneficiaries under RSBY are entitled to hospitalisation coverage up to Rs 30,000 per annum on a family floater basis, for most of the diseases that require hospitalisation.
In this, the beneficiaries need to pay only Rs 30 as registration fee for a year while Central and State government pay the premium as per their sharing ratio to the insurer selected by the State government on the basis of a competitive bidding.
Due to the launch of the new scheme, RSBY tenders that are coming in for renewal are being done only for three to six months. It is not clear whether all insurers will be eligible to participate or only the public sector insurers would be a part of it.
The last tender as per the RSBY official website was announced in 2016 and that too came up after an interval of several months.
“Since the industry is in anticipation of the new scheme that will have benefits of insurance for individuals, both BPL families as well as those above the poverty line, new tenders have been purposely slowed down,” said a senior official of a state-owned general insurance company.
Once the new scheme is launched, all states will have to re-work the tender process to select the lowest bidder for the scheme in that particular area. It is anticipated that premium payments could also be made cashless.
The country has been waiting with bated breath for the new health insurance scheme which was to be introduced in 2016 itself. A plan was also sent to insurance companies with features including the covers for different age brackets and the premiums to be paid.