Only food security card valid for free treatment

Poor patients don't need to produce BPL certificates

Poor patients can avail free treatment at identified private hospitals here using their National Food Security cards from January 1. BPL cards or ration cards will no longer be valid documents from the new year, said a senior official of the Directorate of Health Services.

So far, 73 lakh people who earn less than Rs 1 lakh annually have been issued National Food Security cards in Delhi, according to figures available with the Food Supplies and Consumers Affairs.

According to state health department officials, one standard document will help more poor patients avail free treatment at the private hospitals under the quota reserved for them.

“The older documents will now be replaced. There are more beneficiaries now as the number of BPL and ration card holders is less than that of the the National Food Security card holders. There will be a wider network of people who can benefit from the health schemes,” said a DHS official.

“The food security cards will be the new document to establish that a patient is below poverty line or from the economically weaker section (EWS),” said the official.

Currently, there are 43 identified private hospitals in Delhi which are supposed to provide free treatment to 10 per cent of the patients admitted in their wards and 25 per cent of patients in the Outdoor Patient Department (OPD).

Hospitals have often been accused of turning away poor patients in spite of having vacant beds. Some hospitals have even failed to meet the benchmark of treating poor patients as defined by the state health department.

Patients will also be able to avail the Delhi Arogya Kosh scheme through this document.

This scheme provides financial assistance till Rs 5 lakh to patients for treatment of an illness in a government hospital or certain specific diseases in notified private hospitals.

Circulars have been issued to medical superintendents of all government and identified private hospitals to update food security cards as valid documents beginning next year.

Till now, patients could also use income certificates to establish the poverty level.
According to health department officials, the free treatment scheme was often misused with forged documents being produced.

“One standard document will rule out such possibilities and more genuinely poor patients can be accommodated,” said the official.

However, several migrant labourers who did not have BPL or ration cards and now do not have the new document either can continue to avail free treatment after an undertaking from the DHS.

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