Sheikh Sadli Al Jahid, a third-year student at Dhaka University, had frequently suffered from hernia-related pain for years. But when the condition turned severe, his doctor suggested getting admitted to a hospital.
The treatment process required quite some money, but he did not need to worry about it, thanks to a health insurance scheme introduced by his university.
“After returning from the hospital, I went to our health insurance section and made the claim. A month later, I got Tk 25,000 for my treatment,” said Jahid, who studies law.
In October last year, DU authorities launched the health insurance scheme for students. Under the scheme, regular (honours and master’s) students aged below 28 get treatment from listed hospitals after paying Tk 270 in premium annually, according to the insurance section.
Each student is eligible for a maximum insurance benefit of Tk 50,000 per year for hospital admission. In the case of outdoor treatment, there is an annual allocation of Tk 10,000 per student.
Following DU, Rajshahi University also introduced an insurance scheme for its regular students in June this year. The students will have to deposit annual premium of Tk 250 to avail the facility, said sources.
Under this scheme, students will get up to a maximum of Tk 80,000 if they fall ill and are admitted to hospital, while Tk 2 lakh will be provided to the family in the case of death.
Apart from those studying at DU and RU, most public university students have not had the good fortune of availing insurance service amid the absence of such a scheme.
Students of other universities, especially Jahangirnagar University and Chittagong University, said a large number of them come from lower-income backgrounds, for which it gets even harder for them to get medical treatment.
“We feel vulnerable. A backup like health insurance would have been a great relief for us,” said Solaiman Hossain, a student of Chittagong University.
“We should take lessons from Covid-19 and bring all regular students under health insurance,” he added.
A student of Jahangirnagar University (JU) said a few months ago, he went to a doctor’s chamber with some dermatological issues.
“The doctor asked me to get some pathological tests done, which I could not do due to financial constraints. If we have health insurance like that of Dhaka University, it would have been very helpful for me,” he said, wishing anonymity.
A top official from JU stressed introducing an insurance scheme for students, teachers, officers and their children.
Renowned economist and academician Anu Mohammad said the authorities of other public universities will have to be more attentive to ensure students’ healthcare.
“What is more important is developing a medical and pathological centre at all universities, with proper facilities and qualified doctors and nurses,” said the former JU professor.
Prof AA Mamun, former president of JU Teachers’ Association, said a health insurance policy will make the students feel secure and mentally strong.
“We, the teachers, have medical insurance, and our children are covered under the scheme. But our students who are also like our children cannot avail such facilities, which is frustrating,” he said, calling upon the authorities to take immediate steps to introduce health insurance for students.
JU Vice Chancellor Prof Nurul Alam said they are aware of the demand made by students for health insurance.
“I forwarded the copy of students’ demand to our registrar for further consideration, so that we can launch a health insurance policy. We will put forward the proposal at our meeting as well,” he said.
Chittagong University VC Dr Shireen Akhter said they also want to introduce health insurance for the students.
“We are trying our best, and I can assure you that we are going to sign a deal with an insurance company to this end. This will be helpful for our students,” she said.
Dr Dil Afroza Begum, acting chairperson of University Grants Commission, said it is the decision is up to the university authorities.
The Daily Star