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Even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s health insurance scheme is rolled out for more than half a billion people, India found about 6 percent families missing during surveys conducted to curb the possibility of ghost beneficiaries.
The National Health Agency didn’t find 65 lakh of the 10.74 crore households that will be covered for Rs 5 lakh a year, Indu Bhushan, chief executive officer of the implementing authority, said in an emailed statement to BloombergQuint. The beneficiaries were selected based on the seven-year-old socioeconomic caste census.
The agency conducted field surveys across the country to verify families to be covered under the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar contributed 70 percent of the missing families, Bhushan said. “Some families have either migrated to other cities or some of their members are no longer alive, causing a mismatch.”
India ranks 81 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index of 180 nations. Pilferage of welfare benefits has been rampant. To counter that, Modi has pushed ahead with the Aadhaar biometric ID-based direct benefit transfers—rolled out towards the end of his predecessor Manmohan Singh's term—to plug subsidy leakage in everything from cooking gas to food security and rural jobs guarantee programmes.
For the health insurance scheme, identifying families during field surveys is the first step. The government is considering a stringent claim-settlement process for those who couldn’t be verified. These families will have to present government-authorised personal and family identification, Bhushan said. “Aadhaar details are preferred but other IDs will also be accepted for the first time.”
The scheme will eventually be bigger than originally planned as beneficiaries covered by states but not in the central scheme will also be included. That would take the total number of insured families to 17 crore.
The prime minister, who reviewed the progress ahead of the Independence Day announcement, sought a strong information technology system to reduce fraudulent claims, Bhushan said. There will also be other checks and balances, such as identification, limiting fraud-prone medical packages to public hospitals, medical audits and feedback, he said.
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