In a landmark step, the Centre has decided to extend health insurance coverage to the transgender community under its flagship scheme -- Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY). A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was today signed between the health ministry's National Health Authority (NHA) and the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment to provide an inclusive and composite health package for transgenders.

Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya says this one of its kind MoU will give impetus to ensuring a rightful and respectable place for the transgender community people. “This MOU has laid the foundation for a landmark transformational reform in the society. The move which provides special healthcare benefits to the Transgender Community goes beyond ensuring equality for the disadvantaged community," he adds.

He says the transgender community suffers stigma and exclusion, and that the provisioning of healthcare services under AB-PMJAY is a major step toward an inclusive society. “It is only apt that the MOU is being signed at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre today, as he championed for an inclusive society, with equality across all population groups in the country,” Mandaviya adds.

As per the Census 2011, around 4,87,803 persons have been classified as ‘others’, which includes transgender persons.

He says the government is working in a decisive way to not only recognise the rights of the transgender community but has also taken systematic steps for their welfare.

As per Mandaviya, the MoU extends all healthcare benefits to transgender persons who hold a transgender certificate issued by the national portal for transgender persons across the country.

Under the initiative, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJE) will fund ₹5 lakh insurance cover per transgender beneficiary per annum. "A comprehensive package master is being prepared for the transgender category including the existing AB PM-JAY packages and specific packages (Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and treatment) for transgenders. They will be eligible to seek treatment in any of the AB PM-JAY empanelled hospitals across the country, where specific packages are available," says the health ministry statement.

The Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme aims to provide ₹5 lakh per family per year health insurance cover to over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation. The benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme is allowed to take cashless benefits from any public or private empanelled hospitals.

The social justice and empowerment ministry enacted 'The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019' for the protection of the rights of transgenders on January 10, 2020. The ministry also launched a scheme 'SMILE - Support for Marginalised Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise' on February 12, 2022, which includes sub-scheme -- ‘Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Welfare of Transgender Persons’. The sub-scheme focuses on rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities and intervention, counselling, education, skill development, and economic linkages to transgenders.

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