Health schemes- a farfetched dream for domestic workers

City Health

Various health schemes by the Central and State government for the informal sector, fail to reach the workers.

Sanchari Ghatak

G. Praveena works from 6am to 6pm in almost five households, literally everyday of the year except for the occasional festival holiday. Well, she has to; she’s a domestic worker trying to make ends meet in the city of Bangalore while even trying to save up for her mother’s cataract surgery. “My mother needs a cataract operation but we do not have enough funds. We don’t know if we will ever be able to get her cataract operated,” she sighs while dusting an apartment in Bellandur. 

Despite the central and state governments floating various health schemes for the informal sector, yet most informal workers do not have access to them.

“We are trying to create awareness by putting up fliers in hospitals from where informal workers can avail concession for medical expenses. Since most of them come from really backward families they usually don’t even approach the hospital asking for concession and schemes, that’s the biggest problem. Normalising interaction between the two becomes a hindrance often,” Mr.Vishwanath, BBMP commissioner of health, told the Softcopy.

Under central government’s schemes, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana offers health insurance coverage to BPL families with fixed hospital rates and hospitalisation cover limit of Rs 30,000 for five members of the family. The premium is paid by the centre. The Employment State Insurance Scheme offers full medical cover to its members and their dependents. The Janashree Bima Yojana gives health insurance for people aged between 18 and 59, launched by the Central Government and Life Insurance Corporation. The latest scheme, Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission, has a cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year and is slated to cover over 10 crore poor families.

The Bangalore Apartments’ Federation (BAF), which represents over one lakh flats in Bengaluru, recently, launched its MADHURA (Medical Aid for Domestic workers Under Residential Apartments) scheme that proposes a cover of Rs 1-2 lakh for domestic workers. 

Srikanth Narasimhan, the general secretary of BAF said, “These are the people who come to our houses every single day and almost end up becoming a member of the household. It is only fair that we understand them too and get together in eliminating their woes. This is why we launched MADHURA. It will not only benefit domestic workers but also cooks, drivers, plumbers, electricians, etc. who work in apartments.”

As per the National Sample Survey, there are an estimated 39 lakhs people employed as domestic workers by private households, of which 26 lakhs are female domestic workers. 

Praveena and her mother hadn’t heard of schemes or pensions for domestic workers like her, let alone have one. Given the chance, she would definitely want to avail the facility and return her mother’s eye-sight. “I do not have insurance. Never heard of it, nor did I know I am eligible to avail such things in life. I couldn’t go to school you see. A kind of hesitation engulfs me while trying to talk to officials or when in the bank, so I never even enquired about it.”


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