On the lines of its recent decision to allow workers to choose their retirement saving plan, the labour ministry plans to give more flexibility to workers on their health insurance scheme.
Accordingly, the Board of the Employees State Insurance Corporation will meet on Tuesday to discuss amendments to the ESI Act, 1948 that would allow its near 2 crore subscribers to opt for private health insurance schemes.
It will also take up a proposal on the issue of providing medical education through its colleges.
The move comes following an announcement by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget 2015-16 that workers would have the option to switch from the ESIC to private health insurance schemes.
At present, the government deducts as much as 6.5 per cent of the basic pay of workers earning up to Rs 15,000 per month for health insurance through the ESIC.
The scheme is aimed at protecting formal sector workers against the events of sickness, maternity, disablement and death due to employment injury and to provide medical care to the insured employees and their families. Accordingly, there are 8 crore intended beneficiaries of the scheme.
Meanwhile, contradicting a previous decision by the ESIC Board to exit the business of medical education, the labour ministry last month announced that it will continue to run its existing and upcoming medical colleges.
However, it was also decided that ESIC will not venture into the medical education sector and hence will not set up any new medical college in future.
The ESIC Board will also take up this proposal for discussion. Significantly, in its last meeting on December 5, 2014 it had decided to move out of providing medical education, as it is not its core objective.