Mumbai civic body plans insurance gift for paying property tax

FP

About 15 lakh Mumbaikars who paid a significant portion of the Rs 2,156 crore collected in property tax this year are likely to get a unique gift from the city's civic body family health insurance cover of up to Rs 3 lakh.

According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), these property tax payers are the "true citizens" of Mumbai but who often find the public health sector unattractive and therefore end up going to private hospitals or nursing homes in the vicinity of their homes, even though it sometimes seriously stretches their budgets.

"Middle class property tax payers may have to borrow money or sell assets to pay for hospitals," states a draft proposal prepared by the BMC's health department.

The proposed scheme, called Shiv Arogya Suraksha Kaavach, will provide cashless cover of up to Rs 3 lakh to all family members of property tax payers. Significantly, the BMC is considering recognising several private hospitals in addition to civic hospitals that would be able to admit patients under the scheme.

"The choice of hospitals, whether public or private, will be left to the patients. The private hospital will have the freedom to charge the patients as per their class," the proposal states.

The chief executive officer of a private sector general insurer said the BMC could extract a discount of up to 40 per cent on the premium. At about Rs 1,500 per family post-discount, the total outgo for the civic body would be less than Rs 250 crore, which is approximately equivalent to a 10 per cent rebate on property tax.

Presenting the budget for 2013-14, BMC Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte had suggested that the scheme would be implemented this year. "The draft report of the scheme will be examined for implementability in the budget year," Kunte had said.

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