Scam rocks cashless treatment scheme as Ludhiana doctors make it a cash cow

  • Aneesha Sareen, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Aug 24, 2016 10:45 IST
Independent MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains with the complainant talking to the owner of Aastha Hospital Dr Sanjeev Gupta in Ludhiana on Tuesday. (Gurminder Singh/HT Photo)

Doctors at two private hospitals here have been caught cheating patients in the name of Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana that promises cashless treatment to the poor.

The scheme has minted money for doctors of Aastha Kidney and Super-specialty Hospital (of Maya Nagar, Ghumar Mandi road) and Garg Hospital (of Pakhowal road near Jawaddi bridge). People holding BPL (below poverty line) card get free medical service up to Rs 50,000. But doctors charge them for “additional facilities not covered under the scheme” and then also pocket the reimbursement from the government.

It led to a high drama at the hospitals on Tuesday, when some patients were charged Rs 30,000 each after applying for cashless treatment. Independent legislator Simarjeet Singh Bains stormed into Aastha hospital with a cheated patient, some supporters, and the media, and confronted doctor in charge Sanjeev Gupta.

After 30 minutes of heated argument, the doctor returned Rs 32,000 collected in the name of “laser treatment, tests, registration, and other fee”.

Patient Surinder Kaur of New GTB Nagar, Dugri, had received treatment for kidney stones. Even though she had a health card, she was issued no receipt. Her husband, a retired soldier, was told that laser therapy had cost Rs 20,000 over and above the reimbursable amount. Amidst the fireworks, the doctor was asked why he had not issued any slip, to which he had no clear answer.

“I can’t issue slip, it takes months for the money to come from the government,” said Dr Gupta. Asked whether the case in question had been okayed for reimbursement, he said “yes”.

At last, he accepted that the charging was illegal and returned the cash. “I got my hospital empanelled under the policy but it’s a long wait before our bills get cleared,” he argued.

The scheme has 20-lakh beneficiaries across the state.

At Garg Hospital, hosiery-unit labourer Rakesh Kumar had surgery of the arm, and was charged Rs 20,000 for treatment and Rs 10,000 for medicine, again without receipt. “We got suspicious after we received a call from the hospital to be quiet about the payment,” he said.

Accepting that he had cheated the patient, Dr Vijay Garg of the hospital paid back all his money.

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