New medical hurdles for Delhi-based Air India retirees – Times of India



    MUMBAI: The Covid second wave has turned Air India retirees living in Delhi into second class citizens, as far as medical benefits are concerned. They now have to pay and purchase their “routine medicines” from one of the airline’s panel chemists and then apply for a reimbursement, which retirees allege, is a process that takes over a year.
    On the other hand, for their counterparts in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Cochin and Trivandrum the airline will home deliver their routine medicines, free of cost.
    The discrepancy pertains to a particular aspect of Air India’s Contributory Family Medical Scheme for retirees. Under the scheme, “routine medicines” , like those for lifestyle/chronic conditions like diabetics, thyroid disorders, heart ailments etc, are paid for by the airline. `
    `We visit one of the Air India clinics where the Air India doctor makes a prescription of the routine medicine, which a panel chemist supplies for free and later claims the amount from Air India,’’ said an Air India retiree. But in the past few weeks, new, albeit temporary practices have been put in place, based on the city that the retiree resides in. Air India said the temporary practice was necessitated by the Covid second wave that drove up infectivity and fatalities.
    Under the new scheme of things, Delhi is the worst city to reside in. On April 26, Air India’s Delhi-based retirees received a mail from Dr B Vivekanand, AI general manager-medical stating that the airline has decided to temporarily shut down all the Air India clinics operating in various parts of Delhi. Only one clinic, that in GSD, near IGIA-Delhi airport, will remain functional. But what was worse was the second part of the letter.
    “Considering the lockdown, spread of infection and difficulties thereof, the retired employees can purchase their routine medicines and claim reimbursement…,’’ said the letter, adding that the practice will be in place till May 31.
    Claiming reimbursement for medicines is easier said than done, say Air India retirees. Capt S S Panesar, 82-year old former Air India director, flight safety said: “Many reimbursement claim bills are pending for more than a year. How can the airline then tell retirees to purchase and submit the bill for reimbursement when they know its a long-drawn process? In case I buy medicines from chemist the same doctor may refuse to clear the bill saying that he has not approved these medicines. Why can’t Air India follow the same policy in Delhi as is followed in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Cochin, Trivandrum etc. It’s essential, since we don’t draw a pension.’’


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