J&K’s Group Mediclaim Insurance for employees

R M ZUTSHI
JAMMU, OCT 10: The much hyped Group Insurance claimed to have been rolled out by the J&K Government for the health security of the state employees both serving as well as the pensioners has come under severe criticism from various quarters of the society.
In this regard the government has come up with clarification after clarification after Greater Jammu published a letter written by a chartered accountant seeking Governor’s help after his pensioner father was refused surgical treatment despite fool proof evidence of participating in the said Health Insurance Scheme with the premium duly deposited. Since the so called clarifications issued by the government on the issue were not clear at all therefore it has further led to confusion worst confounded. As a consequence the Govt Order no: 406-FD of 2018 dated 20.09.2018 has been challenged in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and a notice has been issued to the Government to respond.
Different people have expressed their serious concern over the issue. For instance Salman Nizami in a tweet has stated that all Govt employees are being forced to buy Reliance insurance policy which would entail a premium collection of over 8000 crore per annum for the insurance company. He also raised questions against the bidding policy adopted in the case. According to Nizami the government is is favouring the Reliance company even against the state-owned LIC for providing group health insurance to employees. It is pertinent to mention here that Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) of J&K government employees had also resented the order after discussing the circular at length during a meeting held in this regard. According to EJAC ICICI was providing the same health insurance coverage for a comparatively lower premium. The Congress President also took the opportunity of accusing the Modi Govt of conferring benefit on Ambani through this controversial insurance scheme.
A meticulous analysis of the happenings in this regard undoubtedly raises serious questions which need to be answered by the Government without mincing or camouflaging of words instead of rolling out multiple clarifications every other day just as cosmetic cover up.
The employees for whom this insurance scheme has been made mandatory want to know as to why they are being forced for the scheme when there are cheaper schemes available for the same coverage. Moreover they want to know that why the same premium has been fixed for all despite huge variation of salary income of different category of employees and what is the government’s contribution in this scheme other than compelling its employees to participate in the scheme. In case of the pensioners it is in fact more than a mockery as they have to pay a very heavy premium for the cover than those in service though the scheme is not mandatory for them. Would it not be quite appreciative that Govt provided free insurance to the pensioners under this scheme.
Last but not the least there are multiple lacunae on the legal front which can’t be ignored. The scheme rolled out by the Govt order shall now have to pass the legal test in the petition filed in the J&K High Court as it has been claimed by the petitioner to be in violation of the fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution of India.
While the employees as well as the people of this sensitive state have apprehensions based upon sound grounds and arguments when they allege that the scheme is through and through a business deal whereby the government is handing its employees on a platter to be fleeced by the insurance company which ever it be. What an irony that the J&K government has given a new definition to “Social Security’ seemingly an unprecedented initiative that deserves to be reconsidered immediately in order to address the genuine concerns of the employees especially the pensioners who include senior citizens as well as the Super Senior Citizens.