Amid COVID-19, pendency of health cards creates problems for patients

Screenshot of ayushman bharat website

As Kashmir is grappling COVID-19 crisis, there is a huge pendency of applications of health cards issued under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana (ABPM-JAY) SEHAT scheme as the State Health Agency has failed to approve them on time, citing shortage of manpower.

The pendency of issuance of health cards has became a cause of concern for scores of patients who have been admitted in different hospitals but are denied free treatment as their card is yet to be approved by SHA even after filing online application for it months back.

“I had applied for health card three months back but till date I have not received my mother’s health card. Recently, she was admitted at a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19 but we had to bear all the expenses. Due to the failure of the authorities she was denied benefits of free insurance claim for no fault of ours,” said Imran Ahmad, a resident of Soura.

As per the procedure, online forms for health cards also known as golden cards are submitted through Common Service Centre’s (CSC or Khidmatcentre) where the applicant has to submit a copy of verified ration card, Aadhaar details along with biometrics after which the State Health Agency processes and approves it.

However, in Kashmir division, scores of residents have fulfilled the entire criterion but are yet to get their golden cards despite lapse of many months.

In some cases, out of a family, some members have received their cards but other are yet to get it, even though all the members had applied on the same date.

State Health Agency – an executing agency of the project has now sought help from the National Health Agency implementing PM-JAY across India.

“There are two reasons for delay, one is the COVID-19 and the other is the dearth of manpower at SHA where online applications were taking time to get approval. Now we have sought help from the National Health Agency who have both the manpower and the equipment. But due to COVID-19, we are facing lot of issues. Hopefully, in the coming days, all the backlogs will be cleared within a timeframe of a month or less,” said a senior official of PMJAY.

In December 2020, Prime Minister NarendraModi launched Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY SEHAT to extend coverage to all residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

AB-PMJAY is a flagship health scheme of the Government of India launched in 2018 and provides a cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family every year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

A senior government official said that all the residents of Jammu and Kashmir would be covered under the scheme irrespective of their socio-economic status.

Medical procedures such as oncology, cardiology, nephrology are included in the scheme, the official said.

Beneficiaries can avail services from any of the 24,148 empanelled hospitals across the country under AB-PMJAY’s portability feature.

In February, J&K administration said that they had issued Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana (ABPM-JAY) Sehat golden cards to 22 lakh beneficiaries since the launch of the scheme.