The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), which attracts thousands of poor patients from across the northern region, is denying the benefit of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna, the Centre’s health insurance scheme for the poor, to the RSBY card-holders.
RSBY, a scheme of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, provides health insurance coverage for BPL families up to Rs 30,000. The coverage extends to five members of the family, which includes the head of household, spouse and up to three dependents.
The beneficiaries need to pay only Rs 30 as registration fee while the central and the state government pays the premium to the insurer selected by the state government on the basis of competitive bidding. The beneficiaries are issued RSBY cards. A PGI official, who admitted that the institute did not honour RSBY cards, said, “The institute gets the maximum number of poor patients from adjoining states and many have RSBY cards, but it is not accepted and they are asked to go back and get the yellow BPL card.”
Asking poor people to go back to their states and get their BPL cards is simple harassment, more so when RSBY cards are issued only to the poor. Mehar Singh (name changed) from Rajasthan said, “My wife is critical and doctors have asked for some tests. I have the RSBY card, but the authorities are not accepting it. I do not have enough money.”
Gajan Deep (name changed), whose son is suffering from a severe respiratory problem, too, has been asked to get the yellow card from his home town. “I cannot leave my child alone, as there is no one else to look after him. I have the RSBY card, but they are not accepting it.”
Officials at PGIMER are reluctant to explain why they do not honour the RSBY cards. Even those who agree to talk seem to be ignorant of facts. For example, an official said, “RSBY is a state government scheme, and cannot be accepted in PGI as it is a central institute.” An official said, “The institute helps many poor patients under National Illness Assistance Fund and Poor Patient Welfare Fund. I need to check about the acceptance of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna.”