On April 18, news agencies and a considerable number of social media users shared a report that suggested that the Government of India has decided to terminate the life insurance policy for healthcare workers who succumbed to covid infection in the line of duty.
As per the reports, the center has decided to cancel the existing insurance scheme of Rs 50 lakh for those healthcare workers who die in the line of Covid duty. The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package was launched last year to provide financial support to the family of Covid warriors, including Safai karmcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors, specialists and other health workers.
Many journalists had also jumped on social media to share the half-baked information about the update without confirming it from any official source. The Hindu’s Political Editor Nistula Hebbar wrote, “Centre quietly withdraws Rs 50 lakh insurance coverage for healthcare workers.”
Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw questioned, “If this true it is immoral and wrong – can Govt explain why?”
Teena Thacker, Health Journalist at Economic Times wrote, “The scheme promising 50 lakhs to deceased HCWs has ended. What an eyewash.”
Other netizens too jumped into questioning the alleged “ill-timed” step taken by the government of India.
Congress prince Rahul Gandhi shared the fake news too, along with a screen shot of the misleading headline.
New India Express, one of the news agencies that reported it yesterday, updated the report with correct information. In a tweet, it said, “A correction has been made to the original story: The Centre has decided to cancel the existing insurance scheme of Rs 50 lakh for healthcare workers who die in the line of COVID19 duty. The government is in talks with a new insurance firm.” Notably, The New Indian Express reported that the majority of the liberal gang had shared.
What did the Ministry say in the circular?
The circular issued in March by Rajesh Bhushan, Health Secretary, Government of India, and dated 24 March, talked about the scheme and mentioned that it had been extended for one month. It was mentioned in the circular that the insurance scheme acted as a safety net to the health workers fighting Covid-19.
“Under the scheme 287 Claims have so far been approved/paid by the Insurance Company. The Scheme has also played a very important psychological role in sending the right signals to the Health Care Workers and in keeping their morale high,” it added.
Ministry of Health’s statement on the insurance scheme
On April 18, in a tweet thread, the Ministry of Health, Government of India, said that the scheme was extended thrice till March 24, 2021.
It further added that the claims under PMGKP would be settled by the Insurance Company till April 24 2021. “Thereafter, a new dispensation will be provided to cover the Corona Warriors, for which the Ministry is in talks with the Insurance Company (New India Assurance),” it said.
Though Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw thanked the Ministry of Health for clarifying the situation, she did not delete her misleading tweet till the time this report was published.
Verdict: The Government of India has extended the insurance for health workers who died during the line of Covid duty till April 24, 2021. The government is discussing new insurance plans for the Covid warriors with another insurance company. So the Government of India is not withdrawing or canceling the life insurance cover, they are just looking for a new insurance provider to settle the claims. News reports and social media posts claiming that the government of India quietly canceled the insurance for Covid warriors are FAKE.