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Daily News & Analysis
27 June 2012

Come July and ailing patients in the state will heave a sigh of relief, as Maharashtra gears up to launch the Rs300-crore free health insurance scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Aarogya Yojana (RGJAY), in eight districts of the state.

According to health department sources, the launch of the scheme is scheduled in the first week of July.

"Unforeseen circumstances caused by the fire at Mantralaya have pushed the launch to first week of July.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi are expected to visit Maharashtra to launch the scheme," said a senior health department official.

Rajashree Welawakar, 54,a resident of Malad, who is admitted in the civic-run King Edward Memorial Hospital waiting to undergo a costly hip replacement surgery, can now be relieved. The Welawkars received the free health insurance cards two months ago, but could not accrue benefits of the scheme as it had not been launched then. "We will now hopefully be able to cover my mother’s costs for the first hip replacement surgery which would run up a bill of Rs1.5 lakh," said Rajashree’s son, Vishal.

Dr Ravindra Gupta, spokesperson of the SevenHills Hospital at Andheri, one of the eight private hospitals enrolled to implement the RGJAY, says over 800 patients have registered for free surgeries under the scheme’s 972 enlisted procedures. "The hospital’s infrastructure is ready. We are now waiting for the state to give us the green light to start performing such surgeries," he said.

More than 40 lakh families, including orange and yellow ration cardholders, the antodaya (elderly with no family support) and the annapurna (daily wage labour) in eight districts, all of which have incomes below Rs1 lakh, are covered under the scheme. RGJAY cardholders can avail of 972 surgical procedures costing up to Rs1.5 lakh under the free health insurance scheme.

Of 40,41,954 health cards printed, 18,55,726 cards have been distributed till now in Dhule, Raigad, Solapur, Nanded, Amravati, Gadchiroli, Mumbai and Mumbai suburbs. "Close to 45 % of the card distribution is completed. We are rolling out the scheme anytime soon now as we want the waiting patients to accrue maximum benefits of the scheme," said Dr K Venkatesh, chief executive officer of the RGJAY.

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