The government will provide health cover to nearly 280,000 poor families in four districts from the next year

In this regard, the Health Department will register a company, namely the Punjab Health Initiative Management Company.

“The company will float a request asking insurance companies to submit proposals to provide health cover to the poor in four districts,” Health Special Secretary Salman Mufti told The Express Tribune.

Health Department officials say the pilot project of the Rs4 billion health insurance scheme will be launched in Layyah, Rajanpur, Hafiazabad and Chakwal on March 23, 2015. Earlier, the Health Department had shortlisted five insurance companies after inviting expressions of interest.

Each entitled family will be issued an insurance card allowing patients to receive medical care at hospitals that are on the panel of the insurance company concerned.

In addition to government hospitals, the insured families will be able to receive treatment at specified private hospitals.

However, the scheme will extend to indoor departments of hospitals only. Each beneficiary will be entitled to medical services worth up to Rs35,000 a year.

Punjab Health Insurance Company Board of Directors chairperson Aisha Ghaus Pasha said the World Bank’s data would be used to ascertain the eligibility of beneficiaries. She said similar data had been used to provide financial assistance to the poor under the Benazir Income Support Programme.

She said a complaint-registration system would also be introduced in the four districts.

She said the government planned to extend the service to other districts later in 2015. She said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif would set the final date for the launch of the scheme.