Home > Finance > With elections coming, Bihar plans big push to Ayushman Bharat Scheme

With elections coming, Bihar plans big push to Ayushman Bharat Scheme


NEW DELHI: After being a laggard in implementing the Centre’s showpiece Ayushman Bharat (PM-JAY) medical insurance scheme over the past two years, Bihar has decided to step up efforts just ahead of the assembly election.

Bihar plans to increase enrolment of beneficiaries under the scheme to 50,000 daily and to include those who are otherwise not eligible for it, with the state government footing their cost of insurance.

The state has seen about 193,000 admissions under the scheme so far and 5.4 million e-cards have been issued while the number of prospective beneficiaries is nearly 55 million. Claims worth Rs 133 crore have so far been paid in Bihar, a fraction of Rs 7,565 crore paid across the country.

The state’s health facilities have come under focus amid the Covid-19 crisis and opposition parties have latched onto the issue in the run-up to the polls.

Bihar has expressed its intent to expand the scheme in a proposal document seeking agencies for support in implementation by way of opening offices across the state and also operating a beneficiary identification system.

“Recently, the state health authority has been receiving 40,000-50,000 beneficiary identification system (BIS) requests daily, and is expected to increase further during this year, with the escalated focus on enrolling PM-JAY beneficiaries on the BIS portal,” the state government said in the proposal, seeking a professional agency which will run the BIS to verify requests from citizens for enrolment under PM-JAY.

Bihar is also set to select an implementation support agency (ISA) to provide benefits to the eligible beneficiaries under the scheme by setting up state and district level offices and deployment of staff, providing pre-authorisation of procedures and helping in portability of cases, claims processing, audit compliances and anti-fraud activities.

“The eligible ISA companies will support the state health authority in implementation of PM-JAY for 1.08 crore beneficiary family units in Bihar. The state government may add more beneficiaries to the scheme as part of additional sponsored category. The cost for add-on beneficiary families will be borne by the state,” said the proposal document.

As per PM-JAY, 55 million beneficiaries featured in the Socio-Economic Caste Survey database are to get benefits of free medical insurance of Rs 5 lakh per year. Bihar had no experience of running a scheme of such scale, unlike some other states, and has taken time to set up the infrastructure and get medical human resources required for the scheme. The Centre had told Parliament last year that three large states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar – accounting for 30% of the beneficiary population, were implementing the scheme for the first time and hence, their demand for the scheme was still picking up.

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