The state health department has introduced a new group of health insurance schemes for the workers, volunteers, and other staffs engaged in various department programmes under the state government.

The schemes were announced by chief minister Mamata Banerjee before the declaration of the dates of the Assembly elections in the state. ‘Swasthya Sathi’, the new health insurance scheme will be made available to those who are not covered under any health insurance or similar schemes. Under ‘Swasthya Sathi’, the health care requirements and other medical supports would be extended to the workers and volunteers in various development programmes of the state government.

The scheme will cover all civic and green police volunteers, civil defence volunteers, disaster management workers, ASHA workers, SHGs, NVF and home guards and ICDS workers, besides other contractual, casual and dailyrated workers under the West Bengal government. Earlier at a programme, the chief minister said that ‘Swasthya Sathi’ would be a comprehensive health insurance scheme and would come in effect from 1 April. She had also announced that through this health scheme about 80 lakh families, covering around four crore people, would benefit.

The state government will provide Rs.1,000 crore per annum for the scheme. The scheme includes basic health insurance up to Rs.1.5 lakh per annum. There is no cap on the size of the family, and coverage for critical illness is up to Rs.5 lakh. A state level committee to oversee the implementation of the scheme has also been set up.