Central Government weighs Rs. 1 trillion pandemic pool to bail out the uninsured

Stung by the severity of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, India is considering setting up a COVID-19 pandemic pool worth at least Rs. 1 trillion to financially help uninsured citizens whose incomes or health get hit by COVID-19 or any other pandemic in future, said three people with direct knowledge of the matter.

This is aimed at helping the country’s large population of uninsured people handle losses in incomes and offer them financial support to handle hospitalization costs. Just 4-5% of India’s population is covered under health insurance.

“We are working on the creation of a pandemic pool for the uninsured population. At present, the work is at an assessment stage,” stated a government official and one of the three people cited above on condition of anonymity. The official said talks are on with IRDAI and the RBI on the issue.

“The key parameters for the creation of the pool include the number of positive cases; the proportion of hospitalization cases; the proportion of recovery; costs involved at various stages of infection; demographics of the population most affected by the virus; average cost of their living; impact on their incomes; nature of their livelihood; sustainability of their businesses or source of income; medical infrastructure available to them; general comorbidities among them; age group of the most-affected low-income population etc.,” remarked the official.

“Once we are able to assess the range of these parameters, the pricing of the pool can be done; and the quantum of contribution to be made by the government, health insurance companies, and other public stakeholders can be calculated; and then the pool can be launched,” the official further added.

All the people cited above said the government will initially contribute at least half of the pool’s corpus, and the rest will come initially from health insurers and from life insurers at a later stage.

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