News - Dec 19, 2004

Health scheme for villagers inaugurated

Dec 19, 2004
Publication : The Economic Times

MOHAMMAD Yunus, founder of the famed Bangladesh Grameen Bank, on Sunday made a fervent appeal to corporates to take a relook at their "profit maximisation" model.

Speaking at the launch of the Arogya Raksha Yojana (ARYL), a healthcare scheme launched jointly by the Biocon Foundation and Bangalore-based Narayana Hrudyalaya, Mr Yunus said: "Business is only the kind of business that business wants to do. There is an urgent need for business to also go to the people."

The ARY is a comprehensive health scheme targeted at the rural population. This scheme has been launched in collaboration with ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company.

A person can avail of the ARY by paying an annual premium of Rs 120 per person. Besides providing cover against critical illness, the ARY would also provide the beneficiary with free or subsidised medical examination and low-cost medicines.
It also takes care of hospitalization expenses for three days at 12 hospitals spread across Bangalore. The beneficiaries can also get generic medicines at special rates from the network hospitals and at Biocare pharmacies. The Biocare pharmacies would be run by the Karuna Trust.

'We should look at a coverage of about 100,000 persons and then scale it up to cover more," said Mr Devi Shetty, noted cardiac surgeon and founder of Narayana Hrudyalaya.

Referring to the Grameen Bank model, Mr Yunus said that the bank had been able to successfully launch its pension fund and was looking at having a corpus of 1,000 billion Bangladeshi taka (over $160 million) within the next year and half.

"The pension scheme has become popular. We have already mopped up 500 billion Bangladeshi taka ($80 million) during the last three and half years of operation," he added.

"The Arogya Raksha Yojana derives inspiration from management guru CK PrahIad's business model that propagates bottom up planning, where the huge market of the poor that exists in India needs to be tended to.

According to Mr Sandeep Bakshi, CEO of ICICI Lombard General Insurance, given the low level of penetration of health insurance notably in rural areas, it would not be difficult to scale up the project.

Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw in her speech noted that the aim of the project was to provide rural India with high quality medicine's at affordable prices.