Putali Sunar, a 63-year-old Dalit woman from the rural municipality of Gulmidurbar-4, had suffered from severe abdominal pain for years but could not afford a medical examination.
Only a month ago, she found out that she was covered by a federal government health insurance program that would cover all of her medical expenses. She then went to Gulmi District Hospital, where she was diagnosed with gallstones. Putali’s gallstones were surgically removed free of charge, relieving the patient of chronic pain and her family members of medical expenses.
“We could not have had the operation if we had had to bear the cost,” said Laxmi Sunar, Putali’s daughter-in-law, who had accompanied Putali to the district hospital. “The Medicare plan has been a great relief for all of our family.”
According to Gopal Prasad Pandey, chairman of the management committee of the Gulmi district hospital, the government health insurance paid for the cost of checking and treating beneficiaries to a value of around Rs 8 million.
“Beneficiaries received X-rays, USGs and ECGs among other services equivalent to Rs 4.3 million and received free medicine worth Rs 3.6 million,” said Pandey.
Women and the elderly from poor families have benefited enormously from health insurance facilities.
“I didn’t save any money when I was young and economically active. Now that I don’t have a stable source of income, the health insurance policy has become a boon, ”said Umakala Shrees, a 58-year-old woman from Resunga-8 municipality, who obtained her health insurance in. October of last year. . “I often get sick and have to go to the hospital frequently. I have to take expensive drugs. Health insurance now covers all these expenses.
Rupkala Bhusal, 82, from Malarani-2 Rural Municipality in Arghakhanchi District, has diabetes and has to visit the district hospital regularly for testing. She is also one of the beneficiaries of the health insurance policy.
“I don’t even have to pay a single rupee for blood sugar tests after the government issues me a health insurance document. I go to the hospital regularly for tests and treatment now, ”she said.
Like Putali and Rupkala, many people have started to attend health facilities because the health insurance policy guarantees free examinations and treatment to its beneficiaries.
According to data available at Gulmi District Hospital, a total of 15,975 people received free health services under the health insurance policy in the first three months of the current fiscal year. According to Dr Suraj Pokharel, head of information at the hospital, more women than men benefit from the services of the health insurance program.
The number of people going to hospitals to receive services under the health insurance policy is increasing, according to health workers. According to Pokharel, 10,030 people with health insurance visited the district hospital in the first three months of the previous fiscal year. Almost 6,000 more people visited the hospital during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, Pokharel said.
Meanwhile, in Rolpa, another mountainous district in Lumbini province, the health insurance program has not been effective. Only a negligible number of families in the district have subscribed to the health insurance policy, according to Sagar Paudel, the district coordinator of the Health Insurance Board.
“Initially, around 7,000 families signed up for the health insurance scheme, but only half of them renewed the policy,” Paudel said. “We have asked the people’s representatives to provide the support needed to make the health insurance program effective in the district, but the response so far has been dismal. ”