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Indian Express
02 December 2010
By Raakhi Jagga
Ludhiana, India

Only 10,705 out of 25,722 families covered; even their smart cards have expired
THE smart card–based health insurance scheme for families living below the poverty line (BPL) seems to be a nonstarter in the entire state, but more so in Ludhiana district, where more than 50 per cent BPL families are yet to be covered under this scheme.

Of the total 25,722 BPL families in Ludhiana, so far only 10,705 families have been covered under this scheme and even their smart cards, which are used for cashless treatment in hospitals, have expired by now.

Work on the renewal of these cards has started and it will take 3–4 months to complete. This centrally–sponsored scheme was started more than three years ago and till June 2010 only 38 per cent BPL families were covered in the entire state. Yesterday, sub–divisional magistrate for Ludhiana–West, Prem Chand, called a special meeting to review the work for renewing smart cards in Ludhiana and he stated that the remaining 15,017 families will be covered shortly under this plan.

It needs to be mentioned that, as per the health insurance scheme, each BPL fam ily needs to deposit only Rs 30 in order to get free treatment worth Rs 30,000 each for up to four members in a household. The BPL families have complained in the past as well that although they were given smart cards, they were not aware of the hospitals where they could go for treatment. In addition to this, till the time their cards are renewed, they cannot avail of the benefits.

The slow identification of BPL families by the block development officers (BDOs) is the main reason for poor results under this scheme. Today, the BDOs were also called to speed up the work.

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