Internet gag thwarts Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme

Underprivileged patients unable to avail free treatment
Internet gag thwarts Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme

The Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme has hit a roadblock in Kashmir due to continuous internet blockade that has deprived the underprivileged patients of free treatment.

There is continuousinternet shutdown in Kashmir post August 5 this year, when Article 370 wasabrogated and erstwhile J&K State was bifurcated into two UnionTerritories.

The needy used toget their 'Golden Card' from Khidmat Centres or directly from hospitals whereofficials would issue the card to a beneficiary in emergency. Both thefacilities – Khidmat Centres and hospitals – have been affected by the internetblockade.

Officials say theyare not even able to upload details of already registered beneficiaries' GoldenCards which are needed to avail free healthcare.

"It is alltechnology-driven. We are not able to furnish details of the beneficiarypatient to the hospital where the person intends to receive free treatment. Howcan they provide free treatment when we are not able to transfer money tothem," said an official.

The official saidthat before the internet shutdown, they used to issue over 250 Golden Cards ina day.

Ayushman Bharatscheme, also known as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which providesinsurance cover of Rs 5 lakh for a family per year, was started in J&K inDecember 2018. Under the scheme, those people are entitled for free healthcarewho as per Socio Economic Caste Census 2011 have been found underprivileged.The scheme is technologically driven with treatment cost of the beneficiarypatient directly getting transferred into the account of concerned empanelledgovernment or private hospital from government treasury.

As per the 2011census, there are 20 lakh families in J&K or a population of 1.25 croreindividuals. Out of these; 6,13,648 families or 36 lakh individuals, forming 29percent of the total population, have been found entitled for the freehealthcare under the scheme, as per the census. In rural areas, criteria was takenas deprivation, while in urban areas occupation was taken as criteria forpeople to fall under the underprivileged class in the census.

Out of 36 lakhindividuals or identified beneficiaries, 11.36 lakh individuals have beenissued Golden Card necessary for claiming free healthcare under the scheme, asper figures provided by National Health Mission (NHM), the agency involved inimplementation of the scheme.

The scheme isIn-Patient Department (IPD) admission-based, where a patient can avail freetreatment for his ailments. All costlier treatments including dialysis,chemotherapy, cardiac surgeries and gastroenterological surgeries fall underthe scheme.

Around 40,000individuals have used their Golden Card for availing free healthcare under thescheme until now, officials said.

"We generated 60percent Golden Cards based on the census until August 5. We were topping thechart in registration in the country. We were involved in it on mission mode.J&K was awarded by PM in October for this performance," said an NHMofficial.

Speaking to GreaterKashmir, Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Department, AtalDulloo accepted that issuance of Golden Cards has decreased after August 5. Hehowever said documents of beneficiaries are being accepted through offline modeand sanction has been made in many cases.

He added: "In onlinemode, the sanction for the case comes in 15 days, but in offline mode it isdifficult to give a guarantee sanction within 15 days. But we have cleared allpending offline cases. Around 49000 people have been able to avail treatmentunder Ayushman Bharat within a year, out of which 19000 have availed freetreatment post August. Fewer cards have been made post August."

An official said thepeople can approach respective Anganwadi Centres to get their householdidentity number (HID) after producing their ration cards.

"They can then reachour National Health Mission office at Old Secretariat here," he said.

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