80 million EPF retirees may soon get healthcare benefits

More than eight crore workers contributing towards Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) may soon be eligible to receive medical treatment from Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) hospitals after their retirement.

The EPFO’s central board of trustees will meet on Thursday to consider passing on medical benefits under ESIC to pensioners under Employees’ Pension Scheme linked to EPF accounts.

“It has been requested to extend the proposed scheme of ESIC on medical benefits to the pensioners under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) of the EPFO also. The Scheme of medical benefits for EPS 1995 provisions as devised by ESIC will be implemented,” according to the agenda of the CBT meeting, which will be chaired by labour minister Bandaru Dattaterya on Thursday.

1,400 dispensaries

The ESIC has a network of over 1,400 dispensaries and over 150 hospitals across the country which will be accessible to EPF pensioners once the plan is finalised.

EPFO’s Central Provident Fund Commissioner V.P. Joy held a meeting with ESIC Director General Deepak Kumar recently to discuss the proposal.

The broad contours of the proposal will be discussed in the CBT meeting which has employers’ and employees’ representatives.

Workers drawing salary up to ₹15,000 per month are entitled to medical benefits for treatment during incidences of sickness, maternity, disability and death due to injury during work.

The ESI Act applies to factories with 10 or more workers and it is also applicable to shops, hotels, restaurants, cinemas and road transport undertakings.

While 4.75% of a worker’s salary goes towards ESI as employer’s contribution, 1.75% of the income goes as the employee’s share.

Till March 2016, 2.13 crore insured persons were covered under the Insurance Corporation’s Act.

The insured persons can avail such benefits from over 1,400 ESIC dispensaries across the country.

Whereas in the case of Employees’ Pension Scheme, the Centre contributes 1.16% of the employee’s salary (upto ₹6,500) towards the scheme along with employer contribution of 8.33% of the salary.

At present, the minimum pension under EPS is ₹1,000 per month and an employee can receive pension only after minimum 10 years of service. Employees are automatically enrolled under EPS if they are members of the Employees’ Provident Fund scheme.