Retirement fund body EPFO is planning to provide medical benefits under its pension scheme through the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, a move which would immediately benefit around 46 lakh pensioners.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation’s (EPFO) Pension & EDLI Implementation Committee (PEIC) has recently concluded in its meeting held on January 30 that the pensioners should be extended the facility of medical benefits.
“..medical benefit as an extra benefit should be recommended to Labour Ministry,” the committee concluded as per the minutes of the committee’s meeting held last month.
It was suggested that the surplus in Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance scheme could be used for extending medical benefits through ESIC.
It was also pointed out in the meeting that retired government employees are provided medical benefits under the Central Government Health Services and even unorganised workers are covered under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) but there is no such facility for EPFO pensioners.
A senior official said, “If EPFO chooses the ESIC for extending health benefits to its pensioners then they would be able to use the OPD (out patient department) facility of ESIC hospitals and dispensaries as well as other health benefits provided by it to insured persons.”
The recommendations of the committee were listed for discussion in EPFO’s apex decision making body Central Board of Trustees’ meet on February 19. But the meeting was deferred at the last moment.
Now this proposal will be discussed in the next meeting of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).
After deliberating on the proposal for extending medical benefits to pensioners, the CBT may send it to Labour Ministry for consideration and approval.
However, for using surplus funds in the EDLI for the purpose, government would have to amend the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1952 and the EDLI scheme.
The committee wanted that the medical facility to pensioners should be provided free of cost and the EDLI funds should be used for the purpose.