Migrant workers unable to access state healthcare schemes

Poor living and working conditions leave migrant workers with no social security and unreliable wages

Vaishnavi Gopalraj

Bengaluru, Jan 2023

Despite being entitled to free healthcare facilities for the informal sector under  the Rastriya Bima Yojana, many migrant workers are unaware of how to avail the service of the health card schemes. 

Subhash, a migrant worker from Bihar, moved to Benagluru two years back and works on a construction site, earns rupees 350 a day and is responsible for taking care of his mother’s medical expenses because he is unaware of the healthcare facilities available to him. “I’m not able to afford the medical expenses that come at the end of the month, often the treatment is free or I have to pay the expenses which makes it difficult to meet my basic needs for the day.”

According to a from Rastriya Bhima Yojanna, Six lakh migrant workers are currently registered under the health card schemes. .A research study on migrant workers in Bengaluru shows that the total population of migrant workers in the city is nearly 42 percent of the total population. However, only 15 percent of them are able to access the health care scheme provided by the state government.

K. Shekar, Assistant commissioner of the labour department said “The department  is committed to provide healthcare facilities to migrant workers and is working on  spreading awareness on the state government schemes to ensure the migrant  workers can access the resources they need to ensure they stay healthy and safe.”

According to the Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 the migrant workers are entitled to medical facilities. Migrant workers who are hired under contractors to work in construction sites must be provided with health insurance and access to healthcare under the Rastriya Bima Yojana Scheme. “The contractors must take responsibility for registering their workers for the scheme and ensuring they have access to health care,” says labour rights activist Abhishek Singh.

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