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Which Health Insurance Should People Below the Poverty Line Purchase?

By Juhi Walia
14 October 2022, 5:52 PM

Irrespective of financial status, every individual turns to medical care at some point in their life. Moreover, viruses like COVID-19 and diseases like the flu are becoming common today, making health insurance a necessity for all. Medical inflation has also made healthcare services pricey, leaving no choice but to choose a health insurance plan.

Healthcare services can be accessible to people from all over society. But people below the poverty line have limited income and affording a health insurance policy is a distant dream for them. Poor people who don't have access to basic amenities like food and shelter don't consider health insurance a necessity. It doesn't change the fact that they're exposed to diseases and medical conditions.

When BPL families face some medical emergency, they cannot afford the proper treatment at the right time. They either go to poor healthcare facilities or lose their close ones due to a lack of finances. To ensure that people from low-income groups can gain access to quality medical services at a low price, the Government of India has introduced some health insurance policies for BPL families over the years.

Health Insurance Plans For Persons Below The Poverty Line

Below are the various health insurance policies available for people below the poverty line.

1. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY)

The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) offers health insurance plan coverage to BPL families who are members working in unorganised sectors; the Ministry of Labour and Employment launched it to cover the cost of in-patient treatment and transportation up to INR 1000. It provides a sum insured of INR 30,000 on a floater base and covers pre-existing diseases.

The estimated yearly premium is INR 750, which the central and state governments will pay at a 75:25 ratio. People eligible for this scheme must only pay an enrollment/renewal fee of INR 30.

2. Universal Health Insurance Scheme

It offers a sum insured of INR 30,000 per family on a floater base. It provides an accidental death cover of INR 25,000 and pays a day-to-day compensation of INR 50 up to 15 days in case of loss of income. It also provides maternity costs of INR 2,500 and INR 5,000 for standard and caesarean delivery. 4 public-sector insurance companies offer the Universal Health Insurance Scheme that covers the hospitalisation charges of BPL.

People with a yearly income of INR 30,000 or lower are eligible to apply for this policy. The amount to be paid is between INR 300 and INR 600, according to the number of family members covered under the plan. However, the government pays a subsidy of over INR 200, INR 300, and INR 400 for families of size 1, 5, and 7, respectively.

3. Karunya Health Insurance Scheme

The Kerala Government has launched the Karunya Health Insurance Scheme to cover low-income groups against acute diseases like cancer, heart ailments, kidney conditions, haemophilia, etc. It offers a sum insured of INR 3,00,000 and provides repayments if the treatment charges exceed the estimated amount.

People with a yearly income below INR 3,00,000 can apply for this scheme. Unlike other health insurance policies, the state government raises the central part of the premium amount through a lottery system allowing the assignee to pay only a nominal amount.

4. Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana

The Maharashtra Government introduced the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana to give medical coverage to agriculturists and people below the poverty line. It covers the hospitalisation cost for medical & surgical procedures under 34 specialties. The sum insured of INR 1.5 Lakhs per family on a floater base can enhance to INR 2.5 Lakhs per family in the case of a renal transplant.

This health insurance scheme doesn't define any waiting period. It provides the option of coverage since the first day and its premium is completely paid for by the Maharashtra State Government.

5. Mukhyamantri Amrutum Yojana

Mukhyamantri Amrutum Yojana is a health insurance plan launched by the Gujarat Government to cover the medical charges of BPL families. It offers a sum of INR 3,00,000 to each family but can be extended to INR 5,00,000 for organ transplant procedures. It provides coverage for in-patient treatment, pre-hospitalisation, and post-hospitalisation charges, along with transportation charges. It also includes coverage for many critical diseases such as cancer, liver, and kidney transplants, etc. The premium for the policy is paid entirely by the state government.


A significant percentage of the population of India lives below the poverty line and cannot afford to buy a health insurance policy. Nevertheless, several health insurance policies are available for BPL families, similar to the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, the Universal Health Insurance Scheme, the Janashree Bima Yojana, etc. So, if you are categorised as a lower-class group, you can get yourself enrolled in one of the government health insurance schemes that will come to your rescue when needed.

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1. Which health insurance is provided to poor people?

Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojna (RSBY) is provided to the poor people of the country. The Government of India has launched this scheme to provide health insurance to families below the poverty line.

2. Which program provides insurance cover to the poor in India?

Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries), providing coverage up to INR 5,00,000 per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

3. Which documents are required to buy government health insurance plans?

Typically, ID proof is required to avail of coverage under government health insurance schemes. Thus, it is better to check with the respective authorities to understand if specific documents are required.

4. What is the main attribute of government health insurance schemes?

The government’s creativity in launching health insurance schemes is to lower the burden of financial costs on the poor. It also assures people below the poverty line access to healthcare and encourages low-income people to invest in health insurance.

5. Who comes under the below poverty line?

The current method of population families with 17 marks or less out of a maximum of 52 marks have been classified as BPL. The poverty line solely depends on the per capita income in India rather than the level of prices.

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