ESI Health Cards still inaccessible to Pourakarmikas

City Health

BBMP Contract workers in Russell market are yet to get their ESI cards.

Pourakarmikas working in Russel Market have not received their Employee State Insurance (ESI) card even after complaining several times.

Lakshmi Devi, a pourakarmika of Russell market says that she had to pay the hospital bill during COVID-19 because she did not get the ESI card.

Manjunath, in charge of the pourakarmikas of Russell Market confirms that the pourakarmikas have not received the ESI card from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Employees’ State Insurance(ESI) scheme’s health card is still an unknown concept for some BBMP workers. Imran Khan, an auto driver whose monthly income is around Rs. 10-12 thousand said he did not know what the ESI scheme was.

Mr. Santosh, a BBMP official says that there are around 24,000 workers working under BBMP contract and it is mandatory for every worker to have an ESI card to avail the medical facilities for themselves and for their family members too. He said, “Four per cent of the salary of BBMP workers are added to ESI Cards in form of premium instalment per month.”

D Randeep, special commissioner (Solid Waste management and health) in 2019, made a statement saying that he will get the detailed information of pourakarmikas and see how many more cards have to be distributed. No further statements regarding the left over distribution of ESI cards have been made till date.

According to the ESI scheme, the workers and employees must get the sickness benefits

All pourakarmikas working in ward no. 180 have ESI cards but they are not aware of the benefits that are given through the ESI scheme.

Akram Pasha, an auto driver in Banashankari said that he knew about the ESI. He met with an accident and hurt both his legs, butwhen he went to the hospital with the ESI card, he had to pay the full medical bill because the ESI card covered only the bed charges. He was also asked to pay for his own scans and X-rays. He added “While shifting my home, I lost my ESI card and did not apply for a new one because it takes a lot of paper work and the card is not of much use.” ESI cardholders are not able to properly utilise it, says an auto driver.

Dr. S.S. Shapeti, Director of Public Health Foundation of India, Bangalore said, “Under the ESI Scheme, the medical facilities are free of cost. Hospitals must have dispensaries for people to avail free medicines. X-Ray and laboratories are a must in the hospital.  If in case, hospitals suggest you to get treated in other clinics, then the hospital superintendent is supposed to file for reimbursement. They have to claim the money which they spent other than that of ESI Scheme.”