Odisha launches special smart card scheme for healthcare
Ahead of the panchayat and urban body elections in Odisha next year, chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday launched a health insurance scheme called Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana Smart Card scheme in tribal-dominated Malkangiri district on Friday promising that it would usher in a paradigm shift in the system of healthcare services in India
Ahead of the panchayat and urban body elections in Odisha next year, chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday launched a health insurance scheme called Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana Smart Card scheme in tribal-dominated Malkangiri district on Friday promising that it would usher in a paradigm shift in the system of healthcare services in India.
Handing the first such card to Sukri Dhangda Majhi, a tribal woman from the primitive Bonda tribe, Patnaik said each life was precious and money should never be a hindrance in treatment.
“It’s a historic, paradigm shift in the system of healthcare services in India, where a patient will get the best healthcare without any expense. Each family can get treatment cost up to ₹5 lakh per year and women will get benefits up to ₹10 lakh per year under BSKY. This is the first of its kind scheme in the country. It will go a long way in strengthening the health security of people in the state,” Patnaik said while launching the distribution of the smart card.
Around 9.6 million families in the state will receive these smart cards that would enable them to avail cashless health coverage across more than 200 empanelled private hospitals in and outside the state. The smartcards with a 64KB chip will have the details of family members and a 12-digit distinctive registration quantity. Each family will be given two cards in case two people fall sick at the same time.
In the first phase, the cards will be distributed in Malkangiri, Balangir, Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj and Gajapati districts before covering the remaining 26 districts by November. The beneficiaries can avail healthcare facilities under the scheme from September 1. In Malkangiri, where the health indices are pretty dismal, 1,55,823 smart cards will be distributed between August 21 and 25.
The BSKY smart card scheme is a new version of the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Scheme that was first launched in August 2018 to lessen the out of pocket (OOP) expenses which were very high as per the national health accounts estimate for 2016-17. The scheme allowed the convergence of erstwhile Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana and Odisha State Treatment Fund without any premium contribution by the beneficiary or insurance intermediary. Under the old scheme, over 7.1 million farmer families, as well as people receiving foodgrains under Antoday Anna Yojana, were being given identity cards through which they could get treatment in empanelled private hospitals.
State health secretary PK Mohapatra said by November all the 9.6 million families in the state would be covered. From September 1, those who have the smart card would have to produce it at private hospitals for treatment while those who don’t have it can show the NFSA or SFSA card for availing cashless care up to the annual financial limit.
Political analysts said the move to issue BSKY smart cards ahead of next year’s local body polls is a welcome step as it signalled the moving away from politics of freebies.
“Yesterday, Odisha government announced the creation of over 1,100 posts of nursing officials in various primary health centres, community health centres, the district headquarters hospitals and medical colleges. Today’s launch of the BSKY smart card shows the intent to move toward the politics of infrastructure which was prevalent during Vajpayee’s days when elections were fought over Bijlee, Sadak and Pani. A lot of improvements are needed in the healthcare system of the state and this is a step in the right direction,” said Gyanaranjan Swain, a political science professor.
But opposition BJP said the scheme is a scam. “Nothing has changed. Even under the old BSKY, beneficiaries were not being treated at the empanelled private hospitals as those hospitals had over ₹50 crore outstanding. During the Covid wave, several people were refused treatment in private hospitals. The government never gives any information on how many people were treated under BSKY whenever RTI applications are filed. The government just loves to keep everyone in dark,” said BJP spokesperson Lekhashree Samantsinghar.