New Delhi: Having lost out on crucial time during the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Health Authority (NHA), which is the administrative body for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), is looking at doubling its beneficiary base in the next one year.
To that end, it is launching special drives in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the states seen as having the highest number of potential beneficiaries. The three states together account for about 60 per cent of PM-JAY’s targeted beneficiaries.
Touted as the world’s largest government-funded health insurance programme, PM-JAY seeks to provide “poor and vulnerable families” with an annual health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh. Each member of a beneficiary household gets individual e-cards under the scheme.
Of the target of 10.74 crore families or around 50 crore people — set at the time of PM-JAY launch in September 2018 — the NHA has so far issued about 13.5 crore e-cards.
“We have not been able to have enrolment drives anywhere in the country during Covid because door-to-door contact was not possible. The majority of the cards were given out in hospitals. Even in the common service centres, enrolment was greatly reduced,” NHA CEO Dr Vipul Aggarwal said.
“So, in the last one year, the pace slowed quite a bit. We are now looking to shore up the numbers in a very short period. We should have 30 crore beneficiaries in the next one year and the 50-60 lakh hospitalisations per year should rise to 1.5 crore. That’s the target,” he added.
According to Aggarwal, the “unreliability” of the socioeconomic caste census (SECC) data has been a problem because, especially in the urban areas, large numbers of the target population could not be reached.
The SECC data dates back to 2011.
“The SECC database has many flaws. In urban areas, not more than 20-30 per cent of the people could be reached on the ground because of migration. In rural areas, it was about 60-70 per cent,” he said. “That is why many states like Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir (Union Territory) have started using ration card data,” he added.
Special drive in UP, MP, Bihar
According to SECC data, which lists underprivileged families under different criteria of deprivation (including whether they live in a pucca house), 2,00,74,242 households from Bihar qualify as PM-JAY beneficiaries. For UP, the number is 3,24,75,784 households, and for MP it’s 1,47,23,864.
This means that the three states account for over 6 crore of the 10.74 crore targeted households under the scheme.
“These three states have not given us very good numbers, so, along with the ministries of health, urban development and rural development, we are launching a special drive with the target of reaching 100 per cent of the beneficiaries in these states,” said Aggarwal. “MP has already started the drive and achieved 2 crore e-cards on a single day.”
Overall PM-JAY coverage in all three states, he added, is not more than 20-30 per cent of the target.
In association with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the NHA launched a programme for the central armed police forces earlier this month that allows personnel and their families to access cashless services in over 12,000 hospitals empanelled under the PM-JAY.
However, Dr Aggarwal clarified, this “does not mean that 40 lakh people have become PM-JAY beneficiaries”.
“Only people in SECC are eligible. But what it will do for them is to open up 12,000 hospitals instead of just 1,300,” he said.
“Home Minister Amit Shah launched the pilot in Assam. For them, it will ease the process and we, on the other hand, will be able to generate data on demographic profiles and patterns in treatment-seeking behaviour,” Aggarwal said.
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