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Thursday, Dec 23, 2004

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New health insurance scheme for rural dwellers in Karnataka

Our Bureau

Bangalore , Dec. 21

BIOCON Foundation and Narayana Hrudayalaya have tied up with ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company to launch a new rural healthcare scheme called Arogya Raksha Yojana (ARY).

Affordable medical care for rural dwellers was the goal of the scheme, said the Biocon CMD, Ms Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, and the Narayana Hrudayalaya Chairman, Dr Devi Shetty.

The first phase of the scheme launched this week will touch over six lakh people residing in Anekal taluk near Bangalore and will be taken across the State in the coming months, according to Biocon Foundation.

Under ARY, people of rural India can access high quality healthcare services of a network of renowned hospitals and clinics at affordable rates. The health insurance scheme starts at Rs 120 per year per person and covers critical illnesses and surgeries and also offers free or subsidised medical examinations and low-cost medicine.

Its other services include free out-patient consultation, generic medicine at special rates from network hospital pharmacies and BioCare Pharmacies, diagnostic tests at discounted rates at the hospitals, up to three days of non-surgical hospitalisation and free surgical interventions. Karuna Trust, a charitable organisation run by Dr H. Sudarshan, will manage BioCare Pharmacies.

Prof. Muhammad Yunus, MD of Bangladesh's Grameen Bank, inaugurated the first ARY centre with a clinic, office and Biocare Pharmacy at Huskur village in Anekal.

Ms Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD of Biocon, said, "With India's huge disease burden, there is a pressing need for healthcare to be made affordable to the masses. With the setting up of BioCare Pharmacies, we aim to provide the people of rural India with high quality medicine at discounted prices. This project will achieve our dream of providing affordable healthcare to one billion Indians."

Ms Smitha Aggarwal, Head — Rural & Agriculture Business Group, ICICI Lombard, said the need for health insurance products in these areas had been felt for a long time.

Narayana Hrudayalaya is a super-specialty cardiac hospital. ICICI Lombard is a 74:26 joint venture between ICICI Bank Ltd and Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd; Lombard Canada is a group company of Fairfax.

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