The Punjab government has announced a new policy for the treatment of government employees under which a certain amount will be deducted from salaries for availing facilities under the Sehat Insaf Card, or health card.
The deduction will amount to Rs4,350 annually or Rs362 a month as a premium, and only the government employees who pay the premium will be able to avail the facilities under the health card.
In this regard, the Punjab Health Department has written a letter to the finance department. According to the letter, the Punjab government will not pay the premium for government employees.
The premium amount will be paid to State Life Insurance Company, the letter further says, adding that only the employees paying the premium will be able to get the health card facility.
Earlier last month, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) caretaker government had convened a cabinet meeting under the leadership of caretaker Chief Minister Muhammad Azam Khan and decided to limit the free healthcare services available under the Health Card scheme.
Advisor to Adviser to the Chief Minister on Health Riaz Anwar, the full benefits of the scheme would now be reserved exclusively for beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Program as the expenses over the initiative had ballooned.
The liability over the scheme had increased from Rs30 billion and Rs39 billion. A proposal was floated to completely end the program. The cabinet subsequently approved a series of reforms for the Health Card initiative.
Under these new reforms, individuals with an income of up to Rs37,000 will be required to cover 25% of their medical expenses. This contribution will be collected through data obtained from the BISP, ensuring that those with higher incomes contribute to their healthcare costs.
The poor and under-privileged would continue to avail free facilities, however, everyone will be able to avail the free facilities at the emergency ward.
Importantly, it was clarified that the Health Card program itself will not be discontinued; rather, it will continue to serve the underprivileged.