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PM Modi's pre-election masterstroke? Govt to hand-deliver 110 million 'Ayushman Cards'

Contracts for printing the cards and running the call centre will be awarded by August.

twitter-logo BusinessToday.In   New Delhi     Last Updated: July 18, 2018  | 14:24 IST
PM Modi's pre-election masterstroke? Govt to hand-deliver 110 million 'Ayushman Cards'
PC: Reuters

Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme cards will now be printed and hand-delivered to about 110 million families. The government will also organise 'Ayushman Pakhwaras' in villages to implement this ambitious plan. The Modi government will also set up a 24X7 centre in Delhi to attend to queries and complaints about the schemes. The family cards that the government is planning to hand-deliver will mention the names of the eligible individuals and will come along with a letter intimating each beneficiary about the primary points of the scheme.

Additionally the call centre will have a toll free number and will have the responsibility of answering queries and addressing complaints via mails and calls. The call centre will also be vested with the duty of ensuring that beneficiaries have all the information about the schemes and services.

CEO of Ayushman Bharat, Indu Bhushan said that the government plans to finish all preparations for the scheme by August 15, as mentioned in The Economic Times.

Out of 500 million beneficiaries, the government has so far identified 80% of them in rural areas as well as 60% in the urban areas. Contracts for printing the cards and running the call centre will be awarded by August. More than 107 million family cards need to be printed and delivered over a period of two years as per a document by AB-NHPM.

The service provider will print the cards, sort them into bundles according to area code and then deliver them. The letters would be sent to gram panchayats and distributed during Ayushman Pakhwaras door-to-door by health workers. Beneficiaries outside their home states could facilitate national portability benefits with the help of the call centre.

Bhushan, however, added that it will take less than two years and meanwhile the beneficiaries will not be denied services in case their cards have not reached them. 

As the 2019 election is fast approaching, this move of the Modi government can get a nod of approval from the masses. To make this scheme a success, the health ministry recently even said that furnishing Aadhaar card to get access to the scheme is desirable but not mandatory. Aadhaar, whose constitutional validity is still under trial in the Supreme Court can become a major hindrance, especially as the sentiment towards it is not very favourable.

The Modi government is also currently falling short of achievements to show for, while a spate of issues challenging the country's economy and social fabric has popped out its ugly head. So, Ayushman Bharat's smooth implementation could just be the masterstroke that the Modi government was looking for.    

However, recent reports had mentioned that while the government is shooting for the August 15 deadline, only 12-15 states would be able to roll out the scheme on that day, as told by Dr Vinod K Paul, the chief architect of the scheme who is also a member of Niti Aayog. States like UP, Bihar and West Bengal may take another 6 months or longer to launch Ayushman Bharat.

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